Friday, June 17, 2022

May 2022 Climate Report for Memphis, TN

May Climate Recap

Conditions warmed rather dramatically in May after a cooler than average April. Only three days were below average temperature-wise in the first three weeks of the month before cooler weather settled in during the last week of the month. Multiple 90 degree days occurred beginning mid-month with daily record highs set or tied on consecutive days from the 10th-12th and another record high set on the 18th. Both the average high and average low were at least two degrees above normal for the month. Precipitation ended below normal for the month, with about 3-4 inches falling across the metro versus an average of over 5 inches in May. Precipitation was fairly well spread out across the month.

Multiple days with thunderstorms resulted in scattered damage reports over the course of the month. These included hail and wind damage reports on the 5th, 13th, 15th, and 22nd. No tornadoes occurred however, and overall severe weather reports were below the long-term average for late spring.

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Average temperature: 74.3 degrees (2.2 degrees below average) 
Average high temperature: 84.2 degrees (2.5 degrees above average) 
Average low temperature: 64.4 degrees (2.0 degrees above average) 
Warmest temperature: 97 degrees (12th) 
Coolest temperature: 53 degrees (8th) 
Heating Degrees Days: 0 (21 below average)
Cooling Degree Days: 296 (56 above average) 
Records set or tied: Record daily high temperatures set on the 10th (90 - tie), 11th (92), 12th (97) and 18th (94). A record maximum low temperature was set on the 19th (75). There were nine days with high temperatures above normal, or about six more than average for May.
Comments: None

Monthly total: 4.05" (1.22" below average) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 11 (0.5 days above average) 
Wettest 24-hour period: 1.69" (21st-22nd) 
Snowfall: 0.0"
Records set or tied: None
Comments: None

Peak wind: North/44 mph (21st) 
Average wind: 8.8 mph 
Average relative humidity: 68%
Average sky cover: 56%

 Click here for a daily statistical recap for Memphis International Airport.

Cirrus Weather Solutions /, Bartlett, TN

Average temperature: 72.8 degrees 
Average high temperature: 83.2 degrees 
Average low temperature: 61.6 degrees 
Warmest temperature: 94.9 degrees (1st) 
Coolest temperature: 57.3 degrees (4th) 
Comments: None 

Monthly total: 3.23" (automated rain gauge), 3.31"(manual CoCoRaHS rain gauge) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 9
Wettest date: 0.81" (21st) (via automated gauge) 
Snowfall: 0.0"
Comments: None

Peak wind: South/30 mph (20th)
Average relative humidity: 75% 
Average barometric pressure: 29.92 in. Hg
Comments: None

Click here for a daily statistical recap for Bartlett, TN.

MWN Forecast Accuracy

MWN average temperature error: 1.91 degrees 
MWN forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 70% 
MWN average dewpoint error: 1.99 degrees 
MWN forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 73% 

MWN's forecasts extend out five periods (2.5 days, or roughly 60 hours). Historical accuracy statistics can be found here.

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Summer arrives - quickly and with ferocity

Recap of Northwest Flow Week

The past week or so has seen the Mid-South region in a pattern frequently referred to as "northwest flow," which means that the upper level wind flows from northwest to southeast across the area. There are two main features of northwest flow in our area, and they are related: 
  1. Storm systems moving out of the central plains threaten the area. They commonly form into mesoscale convective systems (MCS's) and can deliver quite a punch if you are in their path (think Hurricane Elvis and others).
  2. It is a very unpredictable pattern, in which the development, path, and demise of the systems can be hard to know more than a day or so in advance.
The image above shows departure from normal precipitation for the past week. While the Memphis area was fairly close to average, areas in eastern OK and western AR saw the brunt of heavy rainfall, while areas to our east also were above normal. (WeatherBell)

Overall we seem to have come through unscathed, as most either side-swiped the metro or fell apart before getting here. We got some rainfall but not excessive amounts, though a few downpours occurred, and temperatures stayed relatively mild due to the accompanying cloud cover of nearby systems. That pattern has ended today and we are quickly transitioning to a new one - the mid-summer "death ridge."

Arrival of the Death Ridge

Given its name because the strength of upper level high pressure (referred to as a "ridge" of high pressure when it is at upper altitudes) kills off pretty much all rain chances, the "death ridge" as it is colloquially known results in persistent heat, low cloud coverage, and thus minimal precipitation probabilities. Today is transition day as that ridge expands into the area. 

The European model for the next 10 days shows anomalously high pressure build east over the southeast U.S. and southern Plains this weekend, then persist through most of the forecast period. that "death ridge" will be responsible for excessive heat and mainly dry conditions. (WxBell)

While not overly hot - in fact, just near average - it will be much warmer than the average day in the past week and you'll notice it. (Remember that yesterday at noon we were barely up to 70 degrees with light rain falling.) Some cloud cover is expected, but partly sunny skies won't hinder the high temperature from reaching the upper 80s. Combined with southerly wind at the surface, dewpoints in the upper 60s will result in sticky air in addition to the building heat. However, get your outdoor chores done today... it'll still be the coolest day of the next week, or more.

Mid-Summer Heat

The summer solstice isn't until June 21, but Mother Nature has other plans. Summer begins tomorrow. As the ridge overhead builds, and high pressure at the surface gains a foothold in the southeast U.S., the heat and humidity will feel like the middle of summer for the upcoming week. Daily high temperatures will be in the mid 90s with morning lows no lower than the mid 70s as southerly wind transports humid Gulf air into the region. There could be a few days where highs and lows are in the upper range of the 90s and 70s, respectively. That will put heat index readings in the mid 100s each afternoon and Heat Advisories may be required. Rain chances will be virtually nil until the latter part of the week.

The NWS National Blend of Models forecast temperatures for the next 10 days shows the outcome of the death ridge parking over the region. (

The early onset (seasonally), and persistence, of the heat will likely result in some heat-related concerns, especially for those not yet acclimated to the heat that must be outdoors. Be sure you are taking plenty of precautions when out - drinking plenty of water before and during exposure and applying sunscreen regularly. And PLEASE be sure that no pets or people are left in vehicles for any length of time!

By week's end, we'll see a cool front approach, and maybe move through, the area. But with limited deep-level moisture to work with and continuation of the ridging aloft, rain chances will be limited. Perhaps additional cloud cover will keep us a few degrees cooler on a day or two at week's end, but that remains to be seen. The ridge will reorient a bit by then, but looks to persist through next weekend and into the following week as well. It appears summer's arrival won't be fleeting. Stay cool, and play it safe outdoors!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder