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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist, UK Ag Weather Center

Updated August 17, 2021

Past Conditions 

Last week’s weather pattern brought MUCH needed rainfall to the area. Several rounds of rain fell in the state, with the most significant activity occurring on Monday and again on Friday/over the weekend with a cold front passing through the area. Data at the Ag Weather Center shows the state averaged 1.51 inches for the week. Quite a few locations, shown in the map below, went over the two-inch mark. While the map makes it look like Western Kentucky missed the rain, most of their rain came last Sunday night, just outside of the time slot for this map. Unfortunately, a small area of South-Central Kentucky did not get the totals that were needed. This area was upgraded to the “abnormally dry” category by the U.S. Drought Monitor last week (map below). There were portions of the Bluegrass that were also upgraded, but with the rainfall last week, most should be removed from that map.


In addition to the above-normal rainfall last week, we also had an extended period of extreme heat. Highs between Tuesday and Friday peaked in the upper 80s to middle 90s. This isn’t too far out of the norm for this time of the year, but the high humidity made it downright miserable to be outside. Dewpoints well into the 70s made it feel like walking through a wall of water and pushed our peak heat indices into the 100-110 range. Livestock heat stress once again rose into the “Danger” and “Emergency” categories during the afternoon, which has been quite common this past month. Overnight temperatures provided little recovery. Low temperatures stayed well into the 70s, quite a bit above our normal lows in the middle 60s for this time of year.

Data for the Past 7 Days 

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We are in line to see another wet week ahead, with near-daily chances for rainfall. Although it cuts into fieldwork, more rain is needed. Portions of Central Kentucky and the Bluegrass are still running 1-3 inches below normal over the past 30 days. Today Tropical Depression Fred is moving through the region (map below). Southeastern Kentucky has the best chance to see widespread rainfall, while others will likely see scattered to numerous showers. Some localized flooding issues could arise. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for counties bordering the Virginia border.


The rest of the week will feature at least scattered coverage in place on a daily basis. Looking at the 7-day rainfall forecast below, 1 to 1.5+ inches will be in play for much of the state with the active pattern in place. The highest totals are expected across Southeast Kentucky and Western/South Central Kentucky. Temperatures will run slightly below seasonable norms with typical summer-like humidity in place. Looking a little frther out, long range outlooks hint that above normal temperatures return to the area next week and stick around for the rest of August.

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Need Weather/Climate Data?

Harvest season is right around the corner for the Bluegrass State. In past weeks, I’ve talked about the release of new climate normals and the shift to a wetter and warmer climate for Kentucky. In this update, I want to focus on the fall season, which is typically our driest season of the year. Unlike the annual normals where we saw an increase in precipitation across the state, the fall season shows some areas getting wetter and others drier. Below, I compared the 1981-2010 normals to the 1991-2020 normals for several cities across the Commonwealth. Differences are slim, +/- 1 inch at the max, while fall seasonal temperatures were slightly higher across the board. 


Keep in mind that the 1991 to 2020 normals are what we typically average over a 30-year period. We will see deviations on a year-to-year basis. What about 2021? The latest long-range seasonal outlook for fall from the Climate Prediction Center shows a higher chance for above-normal temperatures and equal chances for near, below, and above normal precipitation over that three-month period (below). Be on the lookout for the next update to these outlooks on August 19.


Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Farmers Expect Strong Crop Production – USDA NASS Press Release, August 12, 2021

Atlantic hurricane season shows no signs of slowing – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, August 4, 2021


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