published Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Maybe not Christmas in July, but it was cool in Chattanooga

Three people walk together across the Walnut Street Bridge as the sun sets.
Three people walk together across the Walnut Street Bridge as the sun sets.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Boy, that was a cold month.

Well, not cold, actually. But it was cool, kind of, at least for July.

The average temperature in Chattanooga last month was 77.5 degrees, according to the National Weather Service's Morristown, Tenn., office. Last July, the average temperature was 77.9 degrees.

That's not a big drop. But since 1879, this was Chattanooga's 30th-coldest July. Just on Wednesday night, the temperature here dipped to 54 degrees, the coldest point this month.

The weather in Chattanooga reflects a bigger picture. Temperatures have been down all over the eastern United States. Meteorologists reported record-setting lows in parts of Georgia and Alabama this month. And in Saranac Lake, N.Y., the temperature even dropped to 37 degrees.

Paul Barys, a meteorologist for WRCB-TV, says temperatures have also been down in the Midwest.

"It's a Garden of Eden summer so far," he said.

Barys said lower temperatures are the result of typhoons on the coast of Japan and China. Those typhoons cause low pressure areas in North America, which cause jet streams that bring cold air.

Jessica Winton, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said global weather patterns created this cool July. Low-pressure systems swept through the area followed by air from Canada.

"Whenever we have low pressure move through, that air (from Canada) comes right behind it," she said,

In addition to cooler temperatures, Chattanooga experienced a dry July. The city received about 2.57 inches of rain last month. In July 2013, the city received 8.49 inches of rain.

Winton said the dryness corresponds with the coolness.

"With the cold air from the north, we don't get a lot of that moisture with it like we normally do when we get it from the south," she said. "We can't get storms without that moisture."

This weekend, by comparison, might not be that cool and dry. With about a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms, highs should be expected to be in the mid-80s today and Sunday.

As for the rest of the month, the National Weather Service isn't taking any chances. Its forecast says there's an equal chance for temperatures to be hotter than usual, cooler than usual or right on target.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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