Heat wave, drought voted Tennessee's top story of 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Several weeks of unrelenting heat killed more than a dozen people in Tennessee in 2007 while the accompanying drought that devastated agriculture also caused some cities to run out of water.

The weather disaster is expected to impact local economies for years to come. It was chosen as the top story of 2007 by The Associated Press' member newspaper editors and broadcasters.

Triple-digit temperatures in August sent hundreds to hospitals with heat-related illnesses. Cities like Memphis tried to prevent deaths by giving out air conditioning units and extending hours at senior and community centers.

To worsen problems, rainfall for the year was about 15 to 20 inches below normal across the state. Meteorologists expect the drought that covered much of the Southeast to be among the worst on record.

As wells, lakes and reservoirs dried up, Governor Bredesen said the drought exposed a lack of planning and infrastructure investment in some communities.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)