NASHVILLE - Rita Randolph, owner of Randolph's Greenhouses in Jackson, keeps a picture by the checkout counter showing a 4-inch blanket of snow. The date? April 13, 2004.
That reminds customers not to get so excited by a warm spell that they plant too early and lose everything, she said. It's a lesson that should serve them well this weekend as freezing temperatures are expected across the state after an unseasonably warm March.
Memphis was preparing for record-breaking temperatures in the low 30s, National Weather Service meteorologist Douglas Vogelsang said Friday, as chilly Arctic air blew across Tennessee. That comes after the city's warmest March on record.
Nashville saw it's sixth warmest March on record, while temperatures over the weekend were expected to average in the low 20s, 15 to 20 degrees below normal.
And average March temperatures in Knoxville and Chattanooga were within 2 degrees of the record highs, while low temperatures in East Tennessee this weekend were expected to be in the mid and low 20s with snow possible in the mountains.
Wide swings in temperature all winter wreaked havoc on Carlos Ramsey's Knoxville nursery.
"We've been in business 24 years and lost more plants this winter than probably all those years because of the warmth and then cold, warmth and then cold. It makes things grow and then kills them," owner Carlos Ramsey said.
When temperatures hit the 80s in late March many people came in looking for the bedding plants that he times to be ready in mid-April.
Some disappointed customers went elsewhere, he said, but now the plants they bought will likely die.
"People were trying to get ahead, but by going out and buying them at Home Depot or Lowe's they got behind," Ramsey said.
Randolph said a lot of her customers "are regulars and they know we don't put anything out before its time."
After 60 years in business - the Jackson nursery was started by her parents- Randolph said, "We've just about got our customers trained."
A temperature swing from one extreme to the other has "happened before and it will happen again, but it doesn't happen that often," Vogelsang said.
One time it happened was exactly 100 years ago in Nashville where the warmest March on record was followed by the coldest April on record.