As if being stuck in quarantine isn’t enough, it’s about to get really cold

What’s the only thing worse than being forced to socially-distance yourself just when Tennessee’s spring season is bursting forth in all her glory?

How about being forced to socially-distance amid a whale of an April cold snap?

We aren’t talking about an April cold snap on the level of the 2007 Easter weekend deep-freeze. But, close enough. And it’s not just the initial cold snap that is a bummer, but how the month of April as a whole is starting to look really cold.

Here’s the setup: Temperatures will be back into the 70s Tuesday and Wednesday. However, a cold front will sweep across the region on Thursday, and we may not see temps in the 70s again for quite some time.

It appears today was the last pretty spring day we’ll see for a while. The next few days won’t be wash-outs, but there’ll be persistent rain chances through the day on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

Then the cold front comes through Thursday, which is going to bring in some much cooler weather for Easter weekend. As of right now, the high on Friday looks like it’ll struggle to get into the lower 50s, after a start to the morning that sees temps drop into the 30s. That’s quite cold for this time of year, and it’s going to fill even colder after record-breaking warmth to start April, which follows one of the warmer months of March on record.

And it won’t end there. The S-word is creeping into the forecast for Friday night into Saturday morning. That’s “S” as in SNOW, not SUNSHINE. It’s not going to be anything significant, and chances of precipitation are actually quite low, but it does look like temperature profiles will be cold enough for any moisture that’s squeezed out of the atmosphere Friday night to be in the form of snow showers. Temps should drop to or just below freezing.

The good news is that temps should rebound fairly quickly, getting back into the 60s Saturday and Sunday. But then it looks like another cold front will sweep through on Sunday, driving us back into the upper 40s or lower 50s next Monday, one week from today.

And if the latest model guidance from the GFS is correct, we could drop well below freezing by Tuesday morning. Then the model suggests we stay in the 50s for highs next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, followed by perhaps another weak cold front to end the week.

If the current run of the GFS is correct, we might not see the 60s for the entire week, before finally getting back there by Saturday, April 18. But then it looks like the cold waves just keep coming as we head towards the end of April.

Right now there are some timing differences between the GFS model and its European counterpart, the ECMWF, but the latter is onboard with below-normal temps overall through the next couple of weeks, as well. In fact, the Euro ensembles keep pretty much the entire continental U.S. — with the exception of Florida — well below normal in the temperature department for the rest of the month.

It’s been an almost perfect spring thus far, which has led to a heightened blooming season. All it takes is one heavy frost or a freeze for that to come to an abrupt halt. There’s no guarantee that’s going to happen, but there could be several opportunities for it to happen over the next couple of weeks — beginning with this weekend — if something doesn’t change. This is a pattern that isn’t going to be much fun. It wouldn’t be much fun in an ordinary year, and it’ll be even less fun under the present circumstances. Or, maybe it’ll be more endurable under the present circumstances since you can’t get out and visit your favorite places anyway. I suppose it depends on your perspective. Either way, it’s gonna be a chilly April.

Ben Garrett

Ben Garrett is a journalist from East Tennessee. He is publisher of the Independent Herald, a weekly newspaper serving the Big South Fork region of the Cumberland Plateau, with a sideline in website development and digital marketing. He is also an erstwhile blogger.

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