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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist, UK Ag Weather Center 

Updated June 15, 2021

Past Conditions 

Last week the Bluegrass State was stuck in a “rinse and repeat” summertime pattern. Each day featured rounds of scattered to numerous showers and storms. This activity had a diurnal pattern, with coverage increasing by day and decreasing at night. The very moist atmosphere led to storms capable of producing torrential rainfall from time to time. Heavy rainfall is usually fine for a short period of time, but as the week progressed, storm motions started to slow. The longer residence time led to localized flooding.  

Overall, the state averaged about 1.5 inches for the week, but the range in accumulations was quite wide because of the scattered coverage. As you can see in the map of weekly rainfall observations below, several areas across the western half of Kentucky got under a half inch. However, a large section of the eastern half saw 2-3+ inches.  

Along with scattered storms, we had high humidity. As a rule of thumb, once you start seeing dew points in the middle to upper 60s, it starts getting pretty sticky outside. This week, we saw dew points topping 70 degrees. The worst of the heat was on Saturday. I included an image below from the Kentucky Mesonet showing maximum temperatures. Many across Western Kentucky jumped into the middle 90s! Combined with high humidity, heat indices (what it actually feels like outside), peaked over the century mark. 


As an interesting side note (picture below), visitors at Mammoth Cave National Park were treated to quite a spectacle on Sunday as a result of storms moving through the area. 


Data for the Past 7 days


7-Day Observed Precipitation 

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June has started on a very active note. The state has averaged 3.19 inches over the first 14 days of the month. As a precursor to the forecast section, I want to show a tweet from Dr. Chad Lee, an Extension grain crops specialist at UK. 


Luckily, corn and beans will get those three days of air into the root profile because the forecast is running dry this work week. Behind the passage of a cold front, much cooler and less humid air has filtered into the state this morning (6/15). In fact, it will feel more like fall the next couple days. Highs on Tuesday and Wednesday will only rise into the upper 70s to mid 80s. (Apologies to Western KY, where temps may run a little warmer.) Combined with mostly sunny skies and low humidity, we are looking at some perfect weather to get a cut of hay baled or make a spray application. University of Kentucky Extension Weed Specialist Travis Legleiter points to the need for one of those spray applications below. 


We start to warm up and get humid again to end the work week. Rain chances start returning to the area late on Friday and into the weekend. Outlooks are leaning toward a better chance for above normal rainfall next week, and rain may stick around through the second half of June.  

I included a look at the seven-day forecast rainfall below, but keep in mind that the majority of this activity is not expected until this weekend and into early next week. You may notice the high rainfall values down in the Gulf Coast. There is a solid chance of a tropical cyclone developing over the next five days. Any effects from this system look to stay well to our south. 

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Less Severe Weather Than Usual

I’m going to knock on wood as I write this, but we’ve seen less severe weather than usual. Yes, we did see bouts of damaging winds this past weekend, but overall, it’s been an unusually quiet spring for the Bluegrass State and much of the U.S. This is supposed to be our most active time of year, but it just hasn’t happened in 2021. How calm has it been? I spent my Friday night (weather nerd alert) looking at the Iowa Environmental Mesonet website. Iowa has an application to plot the number of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service on a yearly basis. Below is a look at the plot for Kentucky between the years of 2010 and present. We are seeing our least active year so far over this time period. We currently sit at 130 warnings issued in 2021.


This calm weather is happening across much of the United States. The Storm Prediction Center gave a summary of May severe weather in this Twitter thread. The highlights: there were no tornadoes rated EF3 strength or higher during the month of May, marking the first time that has happened in recorded history (since 1950) (GREAT news). Tornadoes are rated between and EF0 (weakest) and EF5 (strongest). Flash flood warnings have been a different story. In the bar chart below, I used the application to plot the number of flash flood warnings issued across Kentucky on an annual basis through June 14 (date going back to 1985). You have to back to 2011 to find the last time more flash flood warnings were issued by this time of year in Kentucky. 


Related News from UK and Beyond

High Temperatures Mean Higher Risk of Spray Drift – Erdal Ozkan, Ohio State University Extension, Crop Observation and Recommendation Network (C.O.R.N), June 11, 2021 


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