Ditch the coat, ETSU predicts warmer-than-normal spring

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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The long nights and gray days of winter are behind us.

And despite the chilly weather that blasted the Appalachian Highlands earlier this month, East Tennessee State University’s Climate Office projects above-normal temperatures for much of East Tennessee for the rest of spring.

“The seasonal forecasts are always tricky, and this one is no exception,” said Dr. Andrew Joyner, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences and the state of Tennessee’s official climatologist. “While we generally expect wet and warm conditions for much of the area, bear in mind that these predictions reflect the totality of spring. We are likely to still see cold snaps, as well as warm periods in the months to come.” 

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Joyner recently previewed what the region can expect through June.


The frost and freezing temperatures that left many scrambling to cover their flowers and vegetables during the first weekend in April may have been an outlier.

For a good percentage of the lower elevations of the Appalachian Highlands, Joyner said analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests warmer-than-average temperatures.

The region’s mountains, however, are a bit more complex. 

Data suggest equal chances for normal weather, meaning there’s no clear indicator for either cooler or toastier weather. 


April – and the dawn of spring – has long been known as a time with plentiful rain showers.

This month is no exception. 

“April is leaning toward being wetter than normal across the state, with slightly higher confidence for that in Middle and West Tennessee,” said William Tollefson, Tennessee’s assistant state climatologist and a lecturer in geosciences at ETSU. 

That trend will likely continue across Tennessee through June with a bit more rain than usual, he said. 

ETSU’s role 

ETSU houses the Tennessee Climate Office for the entire state, meaning the university plays an outsized role in weather and climate research.

From drafting data for the state’s mitigation plan to offering counsel on drought conditions, ETSU’s climate research appears in influential outlets across the United States, from PBS to NOAA.