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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Chichi plays in the creek as Cody Roney, director of Lula Lake Land Trust, calls her at the Lula Lake Core Property Tuesday Oct. 1, 2019 in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Roney said Chichi was afraid of water when she first got her, but now jumping in the water is one of her favorite things to do.

Five-day forecast

Wednesday
96 / 72
Sunny, record heat

Thursday
96 / 68
Sunny, record heat

Friday
88 / 68
Cooler

Saturday
85 / 63
Less humid

Sunday
83 / 64
Cloudy, showers

Eight days into autumn, the temperature in Chattanooga rose to a blistering summertime-like high of 97 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, setting a new record for the highest temperature ever in Chattanooga during October.

Even as the days are getting shorter, the National Weather Service isn't forecasting any relief from the heatwave until at least this weekend, with the high forecast to rise to an even higher record of 98 degrees in Chattanooga by Thursday.

"This is extraordinary for this time of the year, but we've had persistent high pressure with a lot of southerly flow keeping air masses very warm with limited cloud cover," said meteorologist Derek Eisentrout, with the National Weather Service office in Morristown. "Even with less than 12 hours of sunlight after the autumn equinox [on Sept. 23], temperatures are still getting into the 90s every day this week."

While Montana was hit with a historic winter storm over the weekend that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in the town of Browning, the hot and dry summer lingers on in the Southeast, with record temperatures expected this week across most of the sunbelt.

The record warm start to October follows the second warmest September on record in Chattanooga, according to the National Weather Service. Eisentrout said only 1925 had a warmer September, and even that year had more rain.

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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Mike Harper waters his garden plot at Greenway Farm Tuesday Oct. 1, 2019 in Hixson Tennessee. Harper grows broccoli, peppers, cabbage and beets on land he rents at the park. Harper noted that it's stayed hotter longer this year keeping some of his vegetables from thriving. Harper said when the ground gets as dry as it is he has to water it before being able to plow.

Last month, Chattanooga recorded only 0.56 inches of rainfall, or less than 13% of the normal monthly level.

Despite the dry September and below average precipitation in August, however, rainfall so far this year in Chattanooga still remains nearly 6.8 inches above normal due to the heavy rains early in the year.

"It seems like whatever pattern we're in, we get stuck in this year, with persistent rainy weather early this year and now continued hot and dry weather," Eisentrout said.

The hot and dry weather pushed temperatures above 100 degrees twice in September in Chattanooga and helped boost demand for electricity in the Tennessee Valley to the highest average peak for the month in TVA's history as air conditioners were in high use to cool homes and businesses across the Tennessee Valley.

TVA's peak demand hit 28,551 megawatts on Tuesday, when temperatures across TVA's seven-state region rose to an average 95 degreees. That was the second highest peak power demand ever for TVA in October, surpassed only on Oct. 5, 2007 when TVA's peak power demand jumped to 26,623 MW.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

 

Breaking records

97 degrees — Tuesday’s high temperature in Chattanooga, the highest ever for October, breaking the previous high of 94 degrees set on Oct. 5, 1954

98 degrees — Forecasted record high for Thursday, following a high expected Wednesday of 97 degrees

81.1 degrees —  Average temperature in Chattanooga in September, the second highest for the month in Chattanooga history behind only the 82.8-degree average set in 1925.

26,258 megawatts — The average peak power demand for the Tennessee Valley Authority for the entire month of September, the highest in TVA history for the month with a record nine days topping 28,000 MW peaks last month.

0.56 inches of rain — Total precipitation in Chattanooga in September, or 3.48 inches below the normal of 4.40 inches of rain for the month.

46.17 inches of rain — Total rainfall so far for 2019, 6.8 inches above the normal annual rainfall of 39.3 inches

Sources: National Weather Service, Tennessee Valley Authority. Degrees measured in Fahrenheit.

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