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Generally, Tennessee has a temperate climate, with warm summers and mild winters. However, the state's varied topography leads to a wide range of climatic conditions.

The warmest parts of the state, with the longest growing season, are the Gulf Coastal Plain, the Central Basin, and the Sequatchie Valley. In the Memphis area in the southwest, the average date of the last killing frost is 20 March, and the growing season is about 235 days. Memphis has an annual mean temperature of 62°F (17°C), 40°F (4°C) in January, and 83°F (28°C) in July. In the Nashville area, the growing season lasts about 225 days. Nashville has an annual mean of 59°F (15°C), ranging from 36°F (2°C) in January to 79°F (26°C) in July. The Knoxville area has a growing season of 220 days. The city's annual mean temperature is 60°F (16°C), with averages of 41°F (5°C) in January and 78°F (26°C) in July. In some parts of the mountainous east, where the temperatures are considerably lower, the growing season is as short as 130 days. The record high temperature for the state is 113°F (45°C), set at Perryville on 9 August 1930; the record low, –32°F (–36°C), was registered at Mountain City on 30 December 1917.

Severe storms occur infrequently. The greatest rainfall occurs in the winter and early spring, especially March; the early fall months, particularly September and October, are the driest. Average annual precipitation (1971–2000) was 54.7 in (138.9 cm) in Memphis and 48 in (122 cm) in Nashville. Snowfall varies and is more prevalent in East Tennessee than in the western section; Nashville gets about 10 in (25.4 cm) a year, Memphis only 5 in (12.7 cm).