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This month's heat waves are reminiscent of 1988. Hopefully, not as consequential.

1988 hot spell set off devastating drought
heat wave drought 1988 vs 2022
Posted at 6:16 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 16:06:50-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Nashville is in the midst of its second heatwave and it's only the first day of summer.

During the same week in 1988, Nashville touched 100 degrees for seven days in a row, and a devastating drought ensued. But the summer of 1988 was ripe for a drought long before it even started.

"Every month of that year except for November was way below normal for rainfall, so there had already been drought conditions building by the time we got to June," said Sam Shamburger, lead forecaster at Nashville's National Weather Service office. "So when it started really heating up, that really intensified the drought conditions that summer."

Although you may be noticing crispy grass and vegetation, we're not experiencing a drought just yet. The most recent U.S. drought monitor map released shows only sections of Tennessee are abnormally dry.

"We had a really wet start to the year, and I think every month except June has been above normal for rainfall in Nashville this year," Shamburger said.

At NewsChannel 5, the Storm 5 Weather Team is watching to see if dry days amount to anything.

"This early season heatwave and this quick dry snap has me really concerned about some of our agriculture partners," said Storm 5 Meteorologist Bree Smith.

Smith said farmers need rain regularly, not just the first half of the year.

"Especially the corn industry. This is when our corn crops are just being planted, and if they don't get rain in those critical early weeks it can really compromise the crops down the road," Smith said.

Just like the week-long heatwave in 1988, the oppressive heat Middle Tennesseans are currently experiencing should be taken seriously by everyone.

"As far as folks that live here, it's really the due diligence of understanding that heat is a marathon, not a sprint, and you really have to be vigilant over time as far as the heat safety measures go," Smith said.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Nashville was 109 degrees. That was ten years ago on June 29, 2012. The most consecutive 100-degree days Nashville has ever seen came in 1952. For eight days that June, the city was above 100 degrees.