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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 12-20-22

Arctic blast on the way!'s officially time to go get that bread and milk! Our first major winter storm of the season is on the horizon and WILL pack a punch. As you're probably well aware at this point, an Arctic front will dive into the area later this workweek, leaving us with a frigid air mass for the holiday weekend.

As it sits now, I have the frontal boundary getting into Western KY by Thursday evening and exiting Eastern KY late Thursday night. We're looking at a rough 40 degree drop in temperatures, taking us into the single digits on Friday. Some will likely even drop below zero on Friday morning. Unfortunately, winds will play a factor, too. Sustained winds around 20 mph and gusts over 40 will knock wind chills well below zero. In fact, look for wind chills to drop into the -10 to -25 range at times. Below is a look at those forecast wind chills from the National Weather Service, valid 7AM Saturday.

While confidence in extreme cold is high, the precipitation forecast is still coming together. Models hinted at a major snow storm over the weekend, shifted it well to our north yesterday, and we're now seeing the potential for a few inches. Bottom line, the forecast is still coming together and we will see changes. Saying that, a Winter Storm Watch has already been hoisted for portions of the Green River region in Western KY, where forecast totals are in the 2-4 inch range. Below is a look at the current 24-hour probability of snowfall accumulations => 1 and 2 inches across the area through 7AM Eastern on Friday (courtesy of the Weather Prediction Center). Again...we will see some changes.

What we do know is that we'll likely see a round of light rain on Thursday, before transitioning that evening and overnight with the Arctic front. This leads to the possibility of a "flash freeze" and icy roads. More on this below. Something else to take into account is the fact that we could see whiteout conditions when the transition does occur. As stated earlier, winds will be a problem!

It's been awhile since we've seen air this cold.....most of us probably have to go back to 2015. Be sure to take precautions for both your family and animals.

First and foremost, dress appropriately and plan ahead! Check the forecast now if you're on the road for Christmas. Leave a day early if need-be. I, myself, am actually leaving for Oklahoma tomorrow so that I can beat the Arctic front. You DO NOT want to get stuck on the interstate! A flash freeze will be on the table. More info below. Again, we're looking at a 40 degree plunge in temperatures. If you are traveling, consider packing an emergency kit, including jumper cables, food, water, blankets, and a spare phone charger...just to name a few. More info on a survival kit can be found here, via the National Weather Service.

Outside of travel, you may consider leaving cabinet doors open or faucets dripping. No one wants a water pipe to bust! If the power does go out, keep portable generators at least 20 feet away from any windows or doors. If not, carbon monoxide issues could arise. Lastly, keep an eye on those space heaters or fireplaces! Don't use extension cords and don't place anything within 3 feet of the heater. More info from the U.S. Fire Administration below.

Looking at agriculture, our livestock cold stress index will dip into the Emergency category for an extended period of time. We need to take precautions now for our animals. The UK College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment just released an article on the topic, titled "Arctic cold blast prompts livestock cold stress emergency". Check it out for timely tips and precautionary measures that we should be thinking about right now.

As specialists recommend, "adequate shelter, water, dry bedding and enough feed to make it through cold periods are vital elements to surviving these weather patterns". In my eyes, one of the most concerning aspects of this storm is the 40-degree drop in temperatures, preceded by rain. As the article states, a wet and muddy hair coat leads to reduced insulation, increased heat loss, and thus, makes cold stress that much more severe. Bottom line, take precautions!

Fortunately, it's not all bad news moving forward. Temperatures will gradually take a turn for the better next week. In fact, the 8-14 day outlook hints at above normal temperatures in place as we head into the New Year. Just to put into perspective, normal high temperatures for January 1st run in the low to mid 40s across Kentucky, while lows average in the mid to upper 20s. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see us back in the 50s.... at least.

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Local National Weather Service Offices for more information

Western Kentucky: Paducah NWS

Central Kentucky: Louisville NWS

Eastern Kentucky: Jackson NWS

Northern Bluegrass: Wilmington, OH NWS

Northeastern Kentucky: Charleston, WV NWS


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