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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 4-13-22 at 10AM EDT/9AM CDT

Severe Weather Day (4/13)

First things, first...I really hate to say it, but another severe weather event is in the cards for the Bluegrass State today. Following some initial showers and storms this morning, all attention will turn to the west this afternoon and evening as a line of strong to severe storms presses into the region ahead of a cold front. The greatest threat for severe weather resides across the western half of the state where the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed a "moderate risk" (image below). This is the second highest risk level that the SPC can issue with numerous severe storms likely. Threats include widespread damaging winds (60 to 80+ mph), several tornadoes (some of which could be strong), and large hail (up to 2 inches). Once again, the highest risk is across Western KY, but please don't let your guard down if you live across Central KY, where much of the area is under an "Enhanced" or "Slight" risk of severe weather.


Below is an image from the National Weather Service in Paducah showing the expected timing of the main line of strong to severe storms. Saying that, this does not take into account discrete cells that could form ahead of the line and pose just as much of a threat (tornado threat increases). Be weather aware this afternoon and into the evening/overnight! If you have friends and family in Western KY or any of the other areas under a Moderate risk, give them a call and make sure their up to date.


Now is the time to make sure you're prepared. Take this event, seriously! Have multiple ways to receive warning, whether that be a NOAA Weather Radio, wireless emergency alerts, sirens, weather apps, or local media. Be sure to check with your local National Weather Service office for more information:

Western Kentucky: Paducah NWS

Central Kentucky: Louisville NWS

Eastern Kentucky: Jackson NWS

Identify your safe shelter in case a warning is issued. Best case scenario, go into a basement. If no underground shelter is present, find the room in your house that puts the most walls between you and the outdoor environment.


Rainfall will also likely be intense at times and combined with already saturated grounds, flooding will be possible. Below is a look at forecast accumulations over the upcoming 24 hours. 1 to 2 inches is in play across Western Kentucky, where portions of the area are under a Flood Watch. In addition, winds could become gusty outside of thunderstorms with gusts of 30 to 40 mph possible.


The aforementioned cold front will exit the state by tomorrow morning, ushering a cooler and drier air mass into the region. We won't drop tremendously, but do expect highs in the low to mid 60s on Thursday. This will be followed by a brief warmup on Friday and another weak cold front heading into the weekend. This sets up a cooler pattern ahead. Below is a look at the 6 to 10 day temperature outlook, which shows pretty high confidence in below normal temperatures next week. Normal highs for this time of year run in the mid 60s to low 70s, while lows average in the mid to upper 40s. Currently expecting temperatures to run about 5 to 10 degrees lower, but at times, I can't rule out some portions of KY approaching the freezing mark. Something to watch.

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Past Conditions

March 2022 was a fairly dry month for the Bluegrass State, especially for portions of Southeastern KY. Officially, the state averaged 3.35 inches, which is 1.33 inches below normal. Eastern Kentucky’s average was 2.62, nearly two inches below normal. Despite some rain across Southeastern KY last week, a combination of low stream flows and diminishing soil moisture led to the introduction of “abnormally dry conditions” for this area on the US Drought Monitor. Following the dry month, I heard multiple comments as to "we're due for a drought". Fortunately and maybe to put some minds at ease, a dry March doesn’t necessarily mean a dry spring. In a recent example, we averaged 3.68 inches across the state in March of 2019. That was then followed by our 9th wettest April-June on record. 


Luckily and unluckily, depending on where you live across the state, the first half of April is trending much like 2019. Just over the past week, the state has averaged 1.42 inches and there is more rain on the way. Good news for Southeastern KY and rejuvenating pasture regrowth, but maybe not so much for the western half of Kentucky and spring planting. In fact, as you can see in the map below, a large portion of Western and West Central Kentucky has seen 2 to 5+ inches over the past week.


Speaking of planting, soil temperatures are starting to jump across the state, but we’re still seeing those typical early-spring up and downs. Below is a look at soil temperatures over the past week from the Union County Mesonet Station. While temperatures at a 2-inch depth have reached into the upper 50s to low 60s over the past couple days, that same depth was showing temperatures in the middle 40s over the previous weekend. As UK Grains Specialists, Drs. Carrie Knott and Chad Lee, mentioned in this 2017 article about corn planting, you want 2-inch soil temperatures to 1) be =>50 degrees for 3 to 4 consecutive days and 2) those temperatures to remain above 50 moving forward (check your forecast). You can access soil data for station near you by using the Kentucky Mesonet’s soils page.

While some may be getting antsy to plant, we're still early in the growing season. Hopefully we can find some drier and warmer conditions over the latter half of April and take sidewall compaction and delayed emergence out of the picture.


Lastly, according to the latest Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report, 30% of apples and 29% of peaches are now in bloom across Kentucky. This is a vital time as it pertains to the potential for fire blight infection and appropriate bactericide applications. In monitoring infection risk, growers can use the Fire Blight Prediction Model on the UK Ag Weather Center's website. Dr. Nicole Gauthier, UK Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, and Kimberly Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate, talked about the subject and gave an update on statewide risk in a recent Kentucky Pest News article. Below is a look at the current risk evaluation across the state as of April 12, 2022. Much of Western KY has now moved into the "HIGH" risk category. If you're in the apple or peach business, it's time to take a look!


Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, April 11, 2022

Conducive Weather for Seedcorn Maggot & Slugs Outbreaks in Field Crops - Dr. Raul Villanueva, UK Entomology Extension Specialist, April 12, 2022

U.S. climate summary for March 2022: record drought across the West - NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, April 11, 2022

August edition of the Kentucky Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar – Kentucky Climate Center, April 7, 2022


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