Chattanooga summer begins with high temperatures but a lower heat index than last week

The official start of summer will bring Chattanooga temperatures in the upper 90s again this week, but lower humidity levels won't make it feel quite as hot as the record-tying heat reached last Thursday.

"Last week, it was oppressive, and this week, it will be only miserable," quipped Derek Eisentrout, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

In a telephone interview from his Morristown, Tennessee, office, Eisentrout said the daily high temperature should reach 96 degrees Tuesday on the first official day of summer and climb to 98 degrees Wednesday and Thursday - 10 degrees above the normal high for this time of year.

"Temperatures are certainly going to be hot and above normal this week, but the biggest difference now compared with last week is that the humidity and dew point will be much lower, which really alters how hot it feels," he said.

To help cope with the near triple-digit highs in the afternoon, some construction companies and foundries are adjusting hours to avoid working during the heat of the day.

"With the labor market the way it is right now, we want to keep our employees as happy as possible, so we're making all kinds of considerations and being as creative as possible," Jeff Cannon, founder of Tucker Construction Co., said in a phone interview Monday. "We've invested a lot in portable air conditioners and fans to try to keep everybody as cool as possible."

Roofing and paving work has been moved earlier in the day, with workers coming in before 5 a.m. to avoid the afternoon heat, Cannon said.

(READ MORE: Beat the Chattanooga heat with this quiz)

Even Chattanooga's Coca-Cola bottling company, the oldest Coke bottler that has bragged for decades that it offers relief from heat with "the pause that refreshes," is giving its drivers more options for making outdoor deliveries earlier in the day.

"During the hotter days, we see a lot more water and sports drink sales, and we encourage our delivery people to start earlier in the day, which we do most summers," Darren Hodges, director of our Tennessee Valley division for Coca-Cola Bottling United, said in an interview Monday.

Summer begins

The June solstice 2022, which is recognized as the official start of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs on Tuesday at 5:14 a.m. EDT.

Eureka Foundry, which has forged ductile iron and gray iron castings in Chattanooga for the past 120 years, has shifted its summer work schedules so foundry employees work from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for its daytime shifts. Fred Hetzler, president of Eureka Foundry, said in a phone interview the earlier start helps the foundry staff help limit some of the worst summertime heat and also helps the company's energy consumption during the late afternoon peak demand period.

Eureka is among customers of the Tennessee Valley Authority that have interruptible power contracts that offer lower base rates in exchange for limits on consumption during peak demand periods.

TVA, which met three of its top four all-time power peaks for June during late afternoon power demand surges last Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, is bracing for similar power demand this week as temperatures could rise in parts of TVA's service area into triple digits Fahrenheit later this week, according to the National Weather Service.

"Temperature and load go hand in hand, so we should see high loads the rest of the week," TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said in a statement Monday. "The strength of our community energy model has positioned TVA extremely well to meet power demand during this hot weather."

Spike in usage

Last Thursday, TVA set an all-time record peak for a single point in time in June when customers used 31,617 megawatts of power.

The high level of energy use caused by the late springtime heatwave in the Tennessee Valley was still well below TVA's all-time summertime peak of 33,482 megawatts reached at a single point in time in the summer of 2007 when temperatures across the valley averaged 102 degrees.

Eisentrout said the thermometer has not reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Chattanooga since October 2019, but triple digit temperatures could be reached in July.

With hotter weather, Brooks said, "there are some simple ways to help reduce power use without significantly impacting your comfort" at home or in the office. To limit energy use and power bills, TVA recommends:

- Turn your thermostat up just one or two degrees and use fans to circulate air.

- Close window coverings on the sunny side of your home or office.

- If possible, avoid using ovens, dishwashers, clothes dryers and other appliances that generate heat in your home until later in the evening or early in the morning.

Residents can contact EPB or their local power company to schedule a home energy audit to help them save even more money. Or they can go to EnergyRight.com for energy-saving tips.

Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or at 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.