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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 1-18-23

Wet start to 2023! Strong storms on the table today/tonight

In quite the turnaround from fall 2022, the new year has opened on a wet note for much of Kentucky. Below is a look at month-to-date precipitation accumulations. Through January 18th, the state has averaged 3.16 inches, which is roughly an inch above normal over that time-span. The brunt of this activity fell between January 2nd and 4th where a large area extending from Western KY and up into the Bluegrass saw 3-4+ inches. The highest accumulations were seen in Muhlenberg and Ohio Counties, where the local Mesonet stations recorded 5.51 and 5.13 inches, respectively.

As you can imagine, the dry conditions we experienced during fall of 2022 are long gone. While some impacts will linger, soil moisture and stream flows took a major leap in the right direction during the month of December and continuing into 2023. Below is a animation of the U.S. Drought Monitor in KY between November 29th and January 10th. At the end of November, nearly 88% of Kentucky was in a drought. Following a wet start to December, that number dropped to 6% in just three weeks’ time! As of the last update this past Thursday, drought is now nonexistent. Let’s hope it stays that way throughout 2023! 

It’s not all been good news, though. The wet pattern hasn’t come quietly, resulting in numerous bouts of flooding early in the month and even a round of severe storms this past week. The storms last week produced about everything, from hail to damaging winds, and even some weak tornadoes. In fact, there were 6 confirmed touchdowns, including four in Central KY, 1 in Western KY, and another in the Northern Bluegrass

Unfortunately, there’s the potential for a few strong to severe storms today as a frontal system works through the area. The main focus is across Western KY, where scattered damaging winds gusts and even a brief tornado or two will be on the table. Just be weather-aware today and keep that weather radio close-by. The main timing for severe weather will be during the late afternoon and into the overnight hours. Below is quick summary of the event from the National Weather Service in Paducah.

Outside of the severe threat, we’re looking at the potential for another inch or so of rain, mainly across the western half of KY where some flash flooding will be possible (map below). Rain looks to exit Eastern KY tomorrow morning, but we're looking at very breezy day. In fact, gusts will likely approach and possibly exceed 40 mph from time to time.

The rest of the upcoming week will run cooler as highs will likely stay in the 40s. Our next round of precipitation looks to arrive on Sunday, but will likely only amount to light accumulations. This will be followed by what looks to be a more significant system next workweek, but details are still very much coming together.

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