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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 5-23-23 at 4PM EDT

Mostly dry week ahead

Sorry, folks! It's been a while since we last talked! I've been dedicating time to some other projects over the past few weeks, including one that will likely be of interest to you.....a smart phone app! I'll leave it at that for now, but be on the lookout for updates moving forward!

In the meantime, let's get back to these weekly updates! How about this weather over the past few days? Mild temperatures, comfortable humidity, dry conditions.....can it get much better?!? Fortunately, this pattern will stick around over the upcoming week and potentially, beyond. If you're looking for a window to plant the rest of your row crops, harvest your first hay of the season, or maybe even apply some postemergence herbicides.....this is it!

Dry conditions will reign, although here and there, a stray shower or storm can't be completely ruled out during the heat of the afternoon. This will be the case today (5/23) and over the holiday weekend. I've already seen some activity pop in East-central KY this afternoon. Ultimately though, if you see rain today, I'm thinking that's just bad luck! Most everyone will stay dry. There's still some uncertainty on the weekend chances, so if you have hay on the ground, keep a close eye on on the forecast. Nonetheless, below is a look at the 7-day forecast rainfall totals from the Weather Prediction Center. Very minimal across the area!

A weak cold front moves through the region on Wednesday night and Thursday, but we're not expecting any rain from the passage. The only real change will be in temperatures and humidity. We'll see highs in the low to middle 80s today and tomorrow ahead of the front, but dipping into the 70s to end the workweek. Looking at humidity, while it's fairly comfortable as it sits now, look for even drier air to filter into the area on Thursday and Friday. Bottom line, we have a fantastic stretch of weather ahead. Temperatures start creeping back into the 80s over the holiday weekend.

Looking into the very end of May and start of June, the long range outlooks (below) lean toward near normal temperatures and below normal rainfall for the region. Just to put in perspective, normal highs for the end of May run in the upper 70s to low 80s, while low temperatures average in the upper 50s to low 60s. We're now getting to the point in the year where we really DON'T want to see those red colors (above normal temperatures) in the outlooks below. Unfortunately, that red really starts seeping into KY over the first week of June....just in time for the start of meteorological summer. Looking at rainfall, confidence isn't necessarily the highest right now for the start of June, but leaning near normal. We'll need it after this dry end to May and heat starting to crank up!

BTW, the seasonal outlook was updated this past week for the upcoming summer. What I really like to see is the green bullseye over the Ohio Valley region (images below), signaling that wetter conditions are more likely. In doing so, while we do have some folks across SE KY starting to get a little dry, the latest seasonal drought outlook doesn't point to any major worries in terms of drought this year. Saying that, this is a THREE month outlook, so don't take it to the bank just yet..... Two weeks without rainfall in the middle of summer and we're having a totally different conversation.

Lookback at April/May

Now let's take a look at the past couple months. Overall, April ran pretty dry, giving us plenty of opportunities to get in the fields. Looking at the official data, the state averaged 3.36 inches, which is 1.37 inches below normal. Unlike some of the dry periods last year, this was a statewide event, meaning almost everyone was 1-2+ inches below normal. Luckily, it's not the middle of summer, so any negative impacts were minimal (if any).

As we've moved through May, some folks have seen excessive rainfall, while others are still running fairly dry. Below is a look at month-to-date observed and departure-from-normal precipitation, through the morning of May 23rd. Portions of West-Central KY, from Webster to Logan Counties, have seen in upwards of 6 inches. The highest total is currently held by the Logan County Mesonet station at 7.51 inches. Most of that total fell on May 8th, when the station recorded 3.04 inches.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, Southeastern KY has continued to run dry, missing out on much of the rainfall over the past few weeks. Thus far, some in that area have struggled to even hit 1.5 inches through May 23rd, which is typically our wettest month of the year. As mentioned in the forecast section above, there's not much rain on the way either! This will be something to watch moving forward as we get into the warmer months of the year. Stream flows are already running much below normal.

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