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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 6-22-23 at 7PM EDT

Much needed wet pattern for Kentucky agriculture

Good evening, folks! We've seen an extended cloudy and wet pattern over the past few days, bringing some much-needed moisture to the region. Below is a look at total accumulations across the state over the past week, most of which has fallen since Sunday evening. Not including today's rainfall, the state has averaged 1.19 inches over the past few days. Outside of far Eastern KY, this has been a statewide event for the most part. A large portion of Western and Central KY even saw 2-3+ inches. The highest total has came out of Trigg County, where the local Mesonet station has recorded 4.02 inches since Sunday. You may recall from last week's update that this WAS one of the driest areas in KY over the past month. Now...some of that rain will turn to runoff and flooding may arise, but at least we got some rain!

We're not quite done with the rainfall either! Scattered showers will be in play again tomorrow, mainly across the eastern half of Kentucky. Conditions then turn mostly dry on Saturday, before chances return to the area Sunday and into next workweek. We're not going to see a ton more in the way of rainfall, but another quarter to half inch+ is on the table for most everyone. Map below. As a side note, some severe weather could accompany Sunday's round of showers and storms, damaging winds being the main threat.

Even with the wet pattern in place, we didn't see much change (in terms of drought coverage) on the latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor (maps below). Some locations saw improvement (much of the Southern Purchase and Lake Cumberland regions), while others saw a degradation (Green River area and Northern Purchase). Even with the rain, long-term deficits have added up. Over the past 30 days, data from the Ag Weather Center shows the state has only averaged 2.58 inches, which is over 2 inches below normal. The most extensive deficits are being seen along the Ohio river, from Ballard to Henderson Counties, 2-3+ inches below normal. Bottom line, most of us still have quite a bit of ground to makeup!

Looking at temperatures, has it really felt like summer yet?! The overall pattern has led to unseasonably cool temperatures and low humidity for much of June. Some even saw low temperatures drop into the 40s this past week! Thus far, most of Kentucky is running 2-4 degrees below normal for the month. Combined with a cooler-than-normal May, this may have delayed crop development a bit, but nothing too significant.

Outside of an uptick in temperatures on Sunday, most will see highs remain below seasonable norms into the first half of next workweek. This trend looks to remain. Outlooks honestly don't point to any major changes into the first week of July. Ultimately, the high heat looks to stay out in the Southern Plains. In some good news, above normal rainfall is also favored over that same period! Keep it coming!

El Niño has arrived!

A hot topic in the weather-world recently has been the arrival of El Niño. What is it and what does it mean for Kentucky?! In short, El Niño is the warm phase of a global climate pattern called the El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO for short). ENSO is just one of many oscillations across the world that can impact global weather circulations.

This climate pattern is mainly based on sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Whether the SSTs are warmer or cooler than normal, can have an impact on the AVERAGE position of the Jetstream, which ultimately determines our storm track. There are three phases to this oscillation: El Niño (warmer than normal SSTs), La Niña (cooler than normal), and neutral conditions. Below are a couple examples of SST anomalies associated with a strong El Niño and La Niña (courtesy: NOAA

The latest data (right image, courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center) shows that El Niño conditions are now present. 2023 will actually be the first time we've seen El Niño in quite awhile. In fact, we just saw three straight years of La Niña. Below is a look at the average position of the Jetstream during El Niño events and the associated impacts across the United States during the winter months (when the climate pattern typically reaches peak intensity). We tend to run drier in Kentucky as the average position of the Jet stream is suppressed farther to the south. There's not much of a strong signature in terms of temperatures. More on this subject, here.

Whether we see dry conditions or not, has a lot to do with the intensity of the oscillation. A "strong" El Niño would most likely exhibit the conditions in the map above. Variability will rise with a "weak" El Niño in place. Saying that, chances currently favor a moderate to strong El Niño. The images below, from NOAA, show the winter precipitation anomalies associated with every El Niño event since 1950. Again, most of the time, we tend to run drier in the Lower Ohio Valley, but it's not a guarantee. In addition to ENSO, other atmospheric patterns across the globe can have an impact on our storm tracks too (Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, etc.).

Looking at the present....this oscillation doesn't really affect our region during the summer months (nor does La Niña). El Niño is NOT the reason we've been dry this past month. While we won't see the main impacts of this pattern until winter, it does have an impact to our south. During El Niño's, there tends to be a reduction in the number and intensity of tropical cyclones across the Atlantic and Caribbean. Let's hope we don't turn dry again this fall! Anyways...stay tuned over the next several months as we see how this climate pattern evolves.

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Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, June 20, 2023

2023 KATS Spray Clinic Registration

"Climate stripes" graphics show U.S. trends by state and county - Rebecca Lindsey with NOAA, June 20, 2023

Monitoring for Important Corn Diseases in 2023 - Dr. Kiersten Wise, UK Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

Watch for Potato Leafhopper to Avoid Hopperburn - Dr. Ric Bessin, UK Extension Entomology Specialist, June 20, 2023

Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 18-24, 2023 - NWS Paducah, KY


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