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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 12-21-21

Thank You

First, I want to say thank you to all who have tuned in to the Ag Weather Update this year. Barring any major weather events, this will be the last update of 2021. My hope is that I’ll have a video-based forecast sometime in 2022 to go along with the narrative. Also, a big thank you goes out to Karin Pekarchik, a Senior Extension Associate in our department, who has helped me tremendously behind the scenes this year with editing and publishing! it's time for me to take a break and go have an amber colored Kentucky beverage! :) Cheers to wishing you all a happy holiday! See you in 2022!

Past Conditions

Following the devastating tornadoes on December 10-11, Kentucky saw dry conditions to start this past workweek. Breezy winds from the south and mostly sunny skies provided the area with above normal temperatures. Highs consistently jumped into the 50s and 60s. For perspective, normal highs for this time of year run in the mid to upper 40s for most of Kentucky.  

Rain returned to the area on Thursday and stuck around through Saturday with a frontal boundary fluctuating around the area. The boundary provided Kentucky with multiple rounds of widespread showers. Overall, the state averaged 1.07 inches. That average was pushed upward by higher totals across Western Kentucky, which averaged 1.64 inches. A large portion of the Purchase area even topped 2 inches (map below). Behind a cold front, temperatures went on the downhill swing on Sunday. Highs struggled to reach the upper 30s to low 40s. 


Data for the Past 7 Days 

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Astronomical winter began today (12/21), marking the shortest period of sunlight we’ll see all year in the Northern Hemisphere. Sky cover continues to clear the area today with only Eastern Kentucky having clouds overhead as of 4:30 PM. Temperatures are in the middle 40s to low 50s across the state. Unfortunately, we have another frontal passage on the way. We’re not expecting rain with this round, but it will send our highs back into the upper 30s to middle 40s for Wednesday. Luckily, winds turn to the south starting on Thursday and we see those temperatures rise through Christmas Day. In fact, it will be another year without a white Christmas as highs top out around 60 degrees! While isolated to scattered rain showers will be possible on Christmas Eve, it appears better chances for rain will hold off until late in the weekend and into early next workweek. Hence, the Weather Prediction Center shows the precipitation forecast below with most of the state seeing nothing through Sunday evening. 


Looking further out into the last week of December and start of January, outlooks are leaning toward above normal temperatures and precipitation winning out (outlooks below). Looking at December as a whole so far, the state has averaged 3.54 inches, which is about a half-inch above normal. Kentucky’s average temperature has run 9 degrees above normal. I’ll write a yearend summary in early 2022, but as it sits now, we are looking at a fourth straight year of above normal precipitation. You may remember from previous updates that our average annual precipitation in Kentucky now sits at 50.38 inches with the updated climate normals. Our annual temperature average will also likely run above normal, which will mark the SEVENTH straight year that has happened. Bottom line, warmer temperatures and wet conditions have definitely won out over the past several years in Kentucky. 


Update on the December 10-11 Tornado Outbreak

The National Weather Service is now wrapping up their damage surveys across the state. I’d like to send a special shoutout of appreciation to all those NWS meteorologists who put in LONG hours the past couple of weeks between forecasting the event, issuing warnings, and performing damage surveys. Round of applause to you all!

The National Weather Service has now confirmed 66 tornadoes associated with the December 10-11 tornado outbreak. You can find specific information on locations and intensity of those in Kentucky at the NWS Paducah and Louisville webpages. Peak intensity of the long-track tornado across Western Kentucky was ultimately determined to be of EF4 strength after experts and engineers were sent to assess the damage (image below). Estimated peak winds were determined to be 190 mph based on the damage estimates. This DID NOT break the record for the longest track tornado. That will remain reserved for the 1925 Tri-State tornado, which was on the ground for 219 miles. Saying that, this tornado still traveled roughly 165 miles, starting in Tennessee and ending near the southern half of Breckinridge County. This was actually one of two long track tornadoes that were on the ground for more than 100 miles. The second was a long track EF3 tornado that traveled ~122 miles, once again starting in Tennessee and ending in Todd County.  

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Related News from UK and Beyond

Doing what families do: Extension helps local tornado victims – Katie Pratt, UK Ag Communication, December 21, 2021 

The December 2021 tornado outbreak, explained – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, December 20, 2021 

Warmer weather may impact early foaling mare pastures – UK Ag Communications, December 16, 2021 

The Hardy Horse: How Horses Handle Winter – Heather Thomas, The Horse, December 21, 2021 

YouTube Video: Mayfield Main Tornado 12-10-2021 – FNB Bank, December 17, 2021 


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