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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 8-15-23 at 7PM EDT

Torrential rainfall has been a problem in 2023

On July 19th, a swath of Western KY running from Ballard to Graves County saw 6 to 10+ inches of rain. Preliminarily speaking, the Mesonet station in Graves County broke the 24-hour rainfall record in Kentucky, at a staggering....11.28 inches. This adds almost an inch to the previous high, which was set on March 1st of 1997 when Louisville saw 10.48 inches. More info on the event can be found here from the National Weather Service in Paducah. Fast-forward a couple weeks (August 3-5) and Fulton County saw a similar setup, leading to a 3-day total of 12.49 inches at the Mesonet station in Hickman. Just to put in perspective, this is about a quarter of what Hickman would see in an average year!

Unfortunately, this led to bouts of catastrophic flooding. Noah Bergren, a meteorologist with WPSD in Paducah, posted the picture above. This serves as reminder to NEVER cross a flooded road! It can be tough to judge the depth of the water and the integrity of the road underneath. Be safe and find another route.

Agriculture was not spared in these areas. Looking specifically at corn and beans, UK specialists Chad Lee, Carl Bradley, and Kiersten Wise wrote an article on the subject, laying out a number of facts and suggestions on how to manage flooded crops moving forward. These events are happening more frequently. Eastern KY saw a 1,000 year storm in July of 2022, but that was one of many that have happened in recent years. Just as we saw in Mayfield a few weeks ago, you don't have to live in a valley or along a river to experience impactful flooding. These kind of storm events can overwhelm any type of infrastructure. If we saw this much rain in Lexington, we would have problems, too!

As mentioned above, this activity was all part of a very active pattern over the past four weeks. Looking at data from the Ag Weather Center, the state has averaged about 5.5 inches over the past 30 days, which is 1.3 inches above normal. That average rises to 7.97 for Western KY, alone!

Below is a look at observed and departure-from-normal precipitation over the past 30 days. A large portion of the Purchase saw 10 to 15+ inches. Looking elsewhere, while not to the extent of Western KY, most everyone else is running near to above normal. Drought concerns have been alleviated from earlier in the summer. We're looking a lot better than the rest of the Midwest. Only slivers of KY are now deemed abnormally dry or in a moderate drought according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor (map above).

The rain's been nice, but it also sometimes comes with problems, often in the form of disease. According to specialists across the College, pressure is on the increase. Southern rust and several soybean diseases have been observed. Fruit has also had it's own problems. Check the links for more information and appropriate actions.

Forecast and Outlooks

Following an active first half of August, we're going in the opposite direction over the upcoming week. Outside of some very light and isolated activity this evening (8/15), dry conditions look to be the norm over the upcoming week. If you need to do some field work, now is the time. Below is a look at the 7-day rainfall forecast from the Weather Prediction Center. Again....not much of anything showing up across the Bluegrass State. Based on the amount of rain recently, most of KY can afford a dry week, BUT.....outlooks don't look too promising moving forward. The latest 6-10 day outlook (image below) shows pretty high confidence in a period of below normal precipitation next workweek. Unfortunately, this will be combined with another dose of summer heat for the area. Something to watch...

Taking a closer look at temperatures, we've gotten a nice break from the heat and humidity following the passage of a cold front. Dewpoints took a steep plunge last night, opening the door to what has felt like an early fall air mass. Look for this comfortable air to stick with us through Wednesday. We see a slight uptick in humidity on Thursday, but temperatures remain below seasonable norms. Again, enjoy the cooler air while you can, because summer heat will return in full force this weekend. Areawide highs in the 90s will be in place starting on Sunday and lasting into the early stages of next workweek. Combined with elevated humidity, we're looking at another stressful round of dangerous heat for animals across the state. If you need to work or transport animals, be sure to do so in the early morning hours. Luckily, the epicenter of the heat dome will stay to our west. Summer is still far from over, folks!

Two new Kentucky Mesonet Stations

Over the past couple months, I've attended the ribbon cuttings for two additional Kentucky Mesonet Stations, one in Russell County and the other at UK North Farm in Lexington. These are officially #78 and #79 on a continuously growing network of weather stations across the Commonwealth. Directed by Dr. Jerry Brotzge and hosted by WKU, the Kentucky Mesonet is a network of observation stations that provides real-time weather data across the Bluegrass State. UK will use the North Farm station for research purposes in the ag sector, but farmers can use this data across the state for a variety of management and production-related decisions. These sites are also utilized for many other purposes, including transportation (road conditions) and emergency management. In just one example, the National Weather Service can issue life-saving severe weather warnings based on data from this network.

You can access the data at or by using their app, available on android or IOS. The goal for the Mesonet is eventually have one station located in all 120 counties across the state. We're lucky to have such a great network in Kentucky.

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Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, August 14, 2023

Kentucky Forage News - August 2, 2023

Kentucky Beef Cattle Newsletter "Off the Hoof" - Beef IRM Team, August 2, 2023

UK Corn and Soybean Newsletter, UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, August 2023

August edition of the KY Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar Series - Kentucky Climate Center, July 6, 2023

How Does Wildfire Smoke Impact Corn Growth? - Dr. Dan Quinn, Purdue Extension Corn Specialist, July 10, 2023

Large Kentucky Grain Crops are Forecasted - Morning AgClips, August 13, 2023

Summary of severe thunderstorms on August 12, 2023 - National Weather Service Paducah, KY


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