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Summer temps arrive early

By Jebb Johnston


While the calendar says summertime arrives later this week, the thermometer signaled its arrival more than a month ago.

Based on the average U.S. temperature, the month of May was the hottest on record. In the Mid-South, it was also the hottest on record for Memphis, with an average temperature of 77.4 degrees; the second-hottest on record for Tupelo, at 75.9 degrees; and second-hottest for Jackson, Tennessee, at 75.2 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

For May, the average temperature in Memphis was "a staggering 21.1 degrees warmer than April's," the weather service notes.

"We went from being relatively cool to experiencing really high temperatures in a month where we typically don't," said Mississippi State University Extension Agent Patrick Poindexter. "That can cause some issues as far as plant growth."

With the mercury regularly topping 90 degrees in the late spring period, the outlook for the summer suggests more of the same is in store. The Climate Prediction Center's forecast through August gives Northeast Mississippi enhanced odds of warmer than normal conditions. Odds of above normal precipitation are also enhanced.

After chances of rain later this week, extended forecasts show high temperatures returning to the low- to mid-90s.

Heat and high humidity are contributing to some fungal infections in plants, and Poindexter has also seen some cases of dollar spot on bermudagrass lawns.

Row crop farmers already faced big challenges this season due to the excessive rain early in the year.

"We were behind on getting started as far as all of our planting activities and still are not completed with planting some crops," said Poindexter.

He encourages residents to keep an eye on pets, as well, and provide clean, cool water and shade during the summer months.