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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 9-6-23 at 3PM EDT

Break in the heat on the horizon

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Meteorological fall started on September 1st, but it's been nothing of the sorts. Highs in the mid-80s to low 90s have been commonplace for just about the entire state since Sunday. Dewpoints in the 70s have made it feel more like the mid to upper 90s at times. Luckily, big changes are on the horizon following the passage of a cold front tonight and into Thursday. North/northwest winds will push most of Kentucky back into the 70s on Friday and lasting through the weekend. We'll see a slight uptick early next workweek, but nothing too noticeable.

Following the aforementioned cold front, mostly dry conditions will also be the norm after what has been a couple days of scattered activity. Most of this coverage has been relegated to the western half of Kentucky, although the eastern half is seeing some hit and miss activity today. The highest total has been seen in Christian County where the local Mesonet station recorded 2.74 inches (map below). We'll take whatever we can get. Prior to yesterday, most of Western/Central KY and the Bluegrass, hadn't seen a drop of rainfall over the past week to 10 days. Some will unfortunately add to that stretch.

If you're a fan of fall temperatures, you'll like the outlooks below, which favor below normal temperatures into the middle stages of September. Normal highs for the middle of the month run in the low to middle 80s, while lows average in the upper 50s to low 60s. While I didn't include them below, precipitation outlooks suggest near normal rainfall for this period. Overall, the state only averages about 3.5 inches for the month of September. Our next "decent" shot of rain looks to arrive next Tuesday and Wednesday with the passage of another cold front. Fingers crossed that it verifies. We'll take whatever we can get. Prior to yesterday, this area, along with much of Central KY and the Bluegrass, hadn't seen a drop of rainfall over the past 10 days.

Looking at the fall season as a whole, I came across an interesting article from Jim Noel, a hydrologist with the NWS's Ohio River Forecast Center, where he discusses the harvest season outlook for the state of Ohio. Most of the outlook revolves around a strong El Niño as we head into winter 23-24. In doing-so, Jim took a look at other El Niño events most similar to 2023 and how precipitation and temperatures were impacted over the fall season. Below are the maps he created from NOAA's Physical Science Laboratory. Overall, fall seasons in Kentucky usually run cooler and drier than average when looking at previously similar El Niño events. This doesn't mean we can't have some warm or wet periods here and there, but rather, the fall season as a whole typically runs cooler and drier than average.

El Niño Fall Temperature Anomalies

El Niño Fall Precipitation Anomalies

August Recap

Preliminary data from the Ag Weather Center shows the state averaged 4.45 inches for the month of August, which is about 0.75 inches above normal. Saying that, the average was pushed higher by exceptional rainfall across Western KY early in the month. In fact, you may recall that the Fulton County Mesonet station recorded over 12 inches of rainfall between the 3rd and 5th, which led to bouts of flash flooding in the region.

Temperature-wise, the Kentucky average actually ended up near normal. While we closed the month with the longest heat wave of the summer season, it was actually balanced by cooler temperatures over the first 2.5 weeks of August. In fact, many didn't see a 90 degree high until the 20th or 21st!

Looking specifically at the heat wave, you probably recall the oppressive humidity, which pushed heat indices over 110 degrees at times. Dewpoints actually hit 80 degrees across portions of Western KY, which is pretty uncommon in our neck of the woods. Paducah Barkley Regional Airport actually hit 81 over multiple days, which is the first time that has happened since August of 2014! Hopefully we don't see dewpoints that high for another 10 years! Brutal!

In a more detailed look at the month of August, be sure to tune-in for tomorrow's monthly climate webinar with the Kentucky Climate Center at 2PM EDT/1PM CDT. Links below.

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Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, September 5, 2023

Kentucky Beef Cattle Newsletter "Off the Hoof" - Beef IRM Team, September 6, 2023

Kentucky Wheat Yield Contest Breaks Records - Dr. Chad Lee, UK Extension Grains Crops Specialist, August 23, 2023

UK’s Hemp Field Day to highlight current research Sept. 12 - Aimee Nielson, UK Ag Communications, September 1, 2023

National Weather Service Paducah Spotter Training Schedule - Fall 2023


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