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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 7-7-22

Drought coverage continues to grow

Happy Thursday, everyone! Drought continues to expand across the state in the latest update to the U.S. Drought Monitor (map below) . ~54% of Kentucky is now considered in moderate drought, while another 26% is abnormally dry. We aren't the only ones across the Midwest with this problem. Numerous other states, including Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and Missouri also had large areas of moderate drought develop. You can see the full U.S. map on the Drought Monitor's website, here.

Most of the deterioration was across the western half of the state, where significant rainfall continues to be hit and miss. This area saw decent rainfall on June 6th and 7th, but since then, very little. Below is a look at total accumulations since June 8th.  Most have seen less than 2 inches over that time span with deviations between 2 and 4 inches below normal. Saying that, it's not all bad news for the Bluegrass State. Eastern KY has averaged nearly 2.5 inches over the past couple weeks.

While much of Western and Central KY has been dry, evapotranspiration compounds the problem. The UK Ag Weather Center has a program called the Irrigation Manager to accumulate these rates over time and compare to total rainfall using data from Kentucky Mesonet stations. Rates have been somewhere around 0.15 to 0.25 inches of loss per day for much of the past month. Combined with little rainfall, deficits can add up quickly! Below is a look at the moisture budget for the Meade County Kentucky Mesonet station. Over the entirety of June, this station only recorded 1.86 inches of rainfall. Total evapotranspiration over that same timespan is 5.61, leading to a moisture deficit of 3.75 inches! Unfortunately, they’re an area that hasn’t gotten much help this past week with the deficit climbing to 4.36 inches when we add data through July 6th

Something to point out when looking at evapotranspiration, we've actually been in a better spot in 2022 than where we were in 2012. Why? Dewpoints (measure of the amount of moisture in the air). It's been exceptionally muggy in 2022 with dewpoints jumping into the 70s and even above 80 at times. Back in 2012, dewpoints were hovering in the 50s and 60s. Don't get me wrong, it was still hot, but the lower dewpoints made it a little more tolerable. While this was the case from a human perspective, the drier air will increase evapotranspiration rates, which added to the problem in 2012.

Looking at temperatures, drought conditions usually lead to a period of extreme heat. In one example, our driest September on record back in 2019 was accompanied by the 2nd warmest September on record (data back to 1895). While not to that extent, we’re seeing more of that same this past month. Based on preliminary data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, Kentucky's average temperature in June was 74.4 degrees, a couple degrees above normal. That heat has continued into July. Just yesterday (7/6) and today (7/7), we've had multiple weather stations top 100 degrees. That’s hot in itself, but add in a dewpoint hovering around 80 and the Ohio and Todd County Mesonet stations had heat indices touch 121! Not fun!  

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I'm writing this update right after we held the July edition of the KY Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions. You can find a replay of the webinar below where we take a look back at this past month, summarize the drought impacts, and what the outlooks are saying moving forward. I included the registration information for the August webinar in the "Related News" section below.

Looking at today (7/7), rain coverage has again been hit and miss across much of the area. More widespread coverage across Southern Illinois and Indiana has slowly been falling apart heading into Kentucky this afternoon and evening. Some of the more significant activity today has hit areas that really needed it. The Union County Mesonet station recorded 1.02 inches. Looking back, this station had only seen 0.32 inches since June 7th. We'll take it with 30% of the state's corn crop now in the silking stage according to the latest Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition report.

Looking ahead, look for storm coverage to wane as we head into the overnight hours. Activity then ramps up again tomorrow (7/8) and into tomorrow night along and ahead of a cold front. Strong to severe storms will be on the table with damaging winds and heavy rain as the main risks. Outside of storms, it will be another hot and muggy day with highs back into the upper 80s to middle 90s. 

Some isolated to scattered activity could form across Southern KY on Saturday with the frontal boundary still in the vicinity, but most of the area will likely stay dry. Below is a look at forecast accumulations from the Weather Prediction Center over the next couple days.

Those dry conditions then stick around through Monday. We'll get a short reprieve from the heat over the weekend, but it comes back early next workweek ahead of another frontal system on Tuesday. We're then looking at a pattern shift (finally) with outlooks leaning toward a round of below normal temperatures over the second half of next week as the heat shifts to the west. Unfortunately, there is also higher confidence in below normal rainfall. Let's look at the bright side...we won't have heat indices topping 100!

Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, July 5, 2022

Registration for the August edition of the KY Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar Series - Kentucky Climate Center, scheduled for August 4, 2022 at 2 PM EDT/1 PM CDT

Have you Herd? Podcast, Episode 31: NRCS Cost Share Projects - Drs. Josh Jackson and Morgan Hayes, UK Extension Livestock Systems Specialists, June 29, 2022

Kentucky Forage News - July 1, 2022


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