Beyond The Forecast: Independence Day Weather History

Storms are holding off this Fourth of July making for a nice day to get outside

Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of Beyond The Forecast!

Technically, we are less than two weeks into summer. You wouldn’t necessarily guess that considering all of the storms and heat in the last three months. The hottest day in Roanoke so far was May 20 when the temperature reached 96 degrees. That’s about 20 degrees above average for that day!

The first holiday this year after the official start of summer is Independence Day. For the 4th of July itself in 2022, high temperatures are slightly above average with just a few showers in the forecast. That can certainly put a damper on the celebrations since so much of the 4th is celebrated outdoors. Between fireworks, grilling and pool parties, this is a holiday where pleasant weather is always welcome.

This year’s heat will bring the temperature above average, but we stay a fair margin below the record for the 4th. The average high on the 4th of July in Roanoke is 86 degrees, but the record high was 99, which coincidentally happened in 1999. Out of the top 5 hottest Independence Days in Roanoke, two of them were in the 21st century (2002 got to 96, and 2012 reached 97). Only slightly lower on the record high list is 2020 when the high was 95, which ties it in 7th place with 1934. The coolest high temperature on record is 68 degrees in 1962, which is within a few degrees of the average July 4th low (64 degrees).

In a notable coincidence, the high in 1999 reached 99 degrees
More than 30 degrees separates the warmest and coolest high temperatures

Most low temperatures for the 4th match the average and stay in the 60s, but the absolute coolest temperature on record was the morning of the 4th in 1933 when the low was 48 degrees. That’s closer to lows in early April. On the warmer-than-average side, 2018 had the warmest low on record at 74 degrees. 1999, the year where the high reached 99, had a low of 73 degrees tying for second place with 2012. 2019 and 2020 came in at 71 and 70 degrees respectively.

Independence Day of 1933 was the chilliest start to any on record

About 4 in every 10 years sees some rainfall on Independence Day, and only a quarter of the days on record received more than a tenth of an inch of rain. 2013 is the title holder with 1.66 inches that day alone. Only five other days on the record broke the 1-inch threshold.

More than half of the time the Fourth of July stays dry

Last year was a pretty typical 4th of July in most respects. The low was 61 (a few degrees below average), and in the afternoon, the high climbed to 85 (within 1 degree of average). The day stayed dry without any rainfall recorded. Lynchburg and Danville were just as dry. Both of those towns had highs close to their averages, but their lows were a fair bit below a typical year. Lynchburg’s low was 55 against an average of 65, and Danville got as cool as 57 whereas the average is 66.

This year we get to stay mostly dry, but after the 4th, showers and storms linger into the end of the week. You can download our weather app for information on storms as they develop and get Meteorologist Chris Michaels’ latest updates online.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg area, the New River Valley or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at Know your zone!

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-- Marshall Downing

About the Author:

Marshall Downing presents the weather Saturday and Sunday evenings at 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM, and you can see him during the week at 12:00 PM and 5:30 PM.