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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 1-4-22

Past Conditions

Happy New Year, Kentucky! It’s been quite a chilly pattern the past couple days, following what will likely be one of our warmest Decembers on record. Preliminary data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center shows Kentucky’s average temperature for the month at 47.6 degrees, roughly 10 degrees above normal (map below)! This could be the 2nd warmest December on record (data back to 1895). To look at it another way, December was warmer than November! Some of the highest temperatures were seen on Christmas Day, when highs jumped into the low to middle 70s for much of the state. Normal highs for Christmas run in the low to middle 40s. While it may not have been a traditional white Christmas, it sure beat 2020, when max temps were in the upper teens to low 20s! 


It was an exceptionally wet week for the Commonwealth. Overall, the state averaged three inches, which was more than two inches above normal. The state saw multiple rounds of widespread rainfall, with the heaviest falling on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Moderate to heavy rain led to 48-hour totals of 2 to 4+ inches across the region (map from the Kentucky Mesonet below), which produced flash flooding in many areas. Some rivers reached minor to moderate flood stages, but most have already gone down over the past 24 hours and will continue to recede over the upcoming week. The only exception will be the Ohio River, which will see some rises into minor flood stages as water works into the main stem.


Unfortunately, the strong storm system led to another tornado outbreak across the region. This time, we didn’t see the strong to violent tornadoes that we experienced with the unusual outbreak in early December. Most tornadoes have been determined to be of EF0 to EF1 intensity, but surveys are ongoing. Below is a look at the current location and intensity of tornadoes surveyed by the Louisville National Weather Service. So far, the strongest tornadoes have been rated EF1 with estimated peak winds of 110 mph. Read the NWS storm summary here. The National Weather Service in Jackson also confirmed a short-lived EF1 tornado in Estill County.  


The severe weather was followed by a cold front which sent temperatures plummeting on Sunday. Precipitation across Eastern Kentucky changed over to snow and led to decent snow accumulations across the higher elevations of Southeastern Kentucky (map below). The snow, which mostly fell across portions of Bell, Letcher, Harlan, and Pike counties, ranged from between one and four inches. Luckily, warm ground temperatures limited impacts. As an interesting side note, NWS Jackson reported that this was the second latest measurable snowfall for Jackson since 1981. Don’t look now, but winter is BACK! 


Data for the Past 7 Days 

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It may have arrived a month later than normal, but winter has officially returned to the Bluegrass State. We started this morning (Jan 4) with lows in the upper teens to low 20s across the state. Current air temperatures as of 4PM have lifted into the low to middle 40s under mostly clear skies and winds from the south. Unfortunately, the chilly air isn’t going anywhere and that means we may have to deal with some of that white stuff in a couple days. 

In the short term, a disturbance passing to our north will drag a cold front through the area tonight and into tomorrow. Fortunately, this will be a dry passage, only amounting to some additional cloud cover. The cooler air will lag behind and not really be felt until tomorrow night. This leads us into the day on Thursday when another frontal system will pass just south of the Bluegrass State. We’ll be on the northern side of the system and with cooler temperatures in place, we're looking at the potential for accumulating snow. In complete honesty, winter weather accumulations are one of the more difficult things to forecast in this profession with multiple factors involved. RIGHT NOW, confidence is rising and everyone has a decent shot of seeing at least an inch. It appears the best chance for higher accumulations of 2-4+ inches would be across the eastern half of Kentucky. Below is a look at snowfall probabilities of => 1, 2, and 4 inches from the Weather Prediction Center over the 24-hour period between 7AM EST Thursday to 7AM EST Friday. Stay tuned! 


This event will be followed by some very cold, arctic air on Friday. Look for morning lows in the low to middle teens for much of the state. Even some single digits mixed in. Highs on the day will only recover into the 20s. The livestock cold stress index will dip into the Danger and Emergency categories over the course of Thursday and Friday, so be sure to take some extra precautions for livestock, horses, and pets. We then see another cold night with lows predominantly in the teens, before southerly flow returns, and highs are back in the 40s on Saturday. This precedes another system that will impact this area on Sunday. This round will be an all-rain event with accumulations of a half to one inch on the table. Below is a look at the liquid equivalent of total precipitation through Sunday evening, most of which falling with the weekend event. 

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report, December Edition – USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, January 3, 2022 

Kentucky Forage News – January 1, 2022 

Protect Your Older Horse This Winter with These Tips –November/December 2021 Equine Science Review, Jordan Strickler, UK Agriculture Communications Specialist  


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