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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 2-27-23 at 8:00AM EST

Another breezy day for Kentucky

Good morning, everyone! Weather-wise, we have a highly active week on our hands as we cross from meteorological winter to spring. Currently, the workweek is starting with a quick-hitting disturbance moving through the area. This is the same one responsible for blizzards in Southern California and some tornadoes in Oklahoma last night. Luckily, we aren't going to see much in the way of severe weather, but we will see another round of very gusty winds. The entirety of the state is currently under a Wind Advisory through this evening with 40-50 mph+ wind gusts on the table. The National Weather Service summarizes some of the impacts in the graphic below.

While the highlights of the event will be the high winds, there is a slight risk for severe weather, predominantly across the Northern Bluegrass (map below). Damaging winds will be the main threat, but an isolated tornado can't be ruled out. Outside of the severe and high wind threats, we will see some showers and storms, but it doesn't look to amount to much in the way of rainfall. In fact, believe most will stay below a quarter inch.

The next couple days run exceptionally warm for this time of year. Look for highs in the 60s tomorrow (little cooler in the Bluegrass) and 70s on Wednesday. Tuesday will arguably be the best day of the week with winds diminishing and mostly sunny skies. Enjoy while you can!

The second half of the workweek is looking rather interesting with multiple rounds of showers and storms, closing with an intense system on Thursday/Friday. Details are still very much coming together, but high winds and heavy rainfall look like a good bet. Below is a look at the 5-day precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center, most of which will fall on Thursday and into Friday. 2 to 3+ inches in the cards for most of KY. Flooding will likely be again on the table. Stay tuned!

We cool off into the upper 20s to low 30s on Friday night behind a cold front, but will once again see a warming trend over the weekend. Looking beyond...I'm afraid there may be some bad news on the horizon. Following a VERY warm January and February, there's some hints that March could go in the other direction. After a mild first week of the month, outlooks start hinting at colder air filtering into the region. In fact, below is a look at the week 3 & 4 temperature outlook, valid for the time period of March 11th through the 24th, which shows pretty high confidence in below normal temperatures. As much as we want this warmth to continue, looks like it's coming to an end....

Speaking of the warmth.....this has been one of the warmest starts to the year that Kentucky has ever seen. January 2023 was our 4th warmest January ever recorded (129 year record). February is not quite over, but preliminary data from the Ag Weather Center shows the state average temperature through February 25th at roughly 46 degrees. If the month ended today, this would place near the top for the warmest February's ever recorded. Bottom line, after our Arctic air event in December, winter has felt non-existent.

Taking into account all the data and 2023 is running in a very similar trajectory to 2017. Back at that time, we saw our 2nd warmest January-February ever recorded. 2023 will likely be right up there with it. Much like 2017, vegetation is waking up pretty early and moving into advanced growth stages much earlier than normal. Below is just a couple examples of trees in bloom across the state, Buffalo Trace Distillery on the left and UK campus on the right. Bottom line, it's way too early for this!

One way to track vegetative growth is by using heat units or in other words, growing degree days. We're accumulating these GDDs at a very rapid pace in 2023 and running at a similar pace as 2017. The base temperature for growth will vary among different crops, but in the graphs below, I used a base temperature of 32 degrees when calculating GDDs.

As of February 25th, Lexington has accumulated 716 GDDs, actually exceeding the pace in 2017 at this same time. Just to put in perspective, we didn't hit 716 until March 24th in 2022. Paducah lies in a similar spot, accumulating 742 as of February 25th.

As you may imagine, while we're seeing signs of spring early in the year, this isn't necessarily a good thing. Our warmth in 2017 was actually followed by below normal temperatures in March. In fact, we had lows dip well into the 20s and even the teens over multiple nights. While I'm not saying we'll get that cold, the outlook above definitely hints at some cold days and nights ahead!

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Related News from UK and Beyond

Do Snow and Ice Accumulations Harm or Help the Wheat Crop? - Conner Raymond, UK Grains Extension Associate, and Dr. Carrie Knott, UK Grain Crops Extension Specialist, February 17, 2023

Critical time to Begin Sampling for Alfalfa Weevil - Dr. Ric Bessin, UK Extension Entomology Specialist, February 21, 2023

March 1-7, 2023 is Severe Weather Awareness Week! Are you prepared? - National Weather Service in Jackson, KY

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