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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 7-21-22

Drought 2022 Update

Much of Kentucky has been fortunate the past couple weeks and seen decent rainfall across the area. Data in the Ag Weather Center shows the state has averaged 2.82 inches over the past 14 days, which is roughly three quarters of an inch ABOVE normal. Portions of South Central and SE KY have even seen 4-5+ inches over that time span. In doing so, there was large scale improvement in the latest update to the U.S. Drought Monitor today (below). In fact, most of the eastern half of Kentucky is now without any color on the map. 

It's not all good news across the state. Western KY did see an expansion of severe drought. While precipitation has been close to normal the past couple weeks for much of this area, 30-day deficits are still in the 1-3+ inch range. Going back 60 days and some are pushing 3-4+ inches below normal.

Even with recent rains, I'm hearing it was too late for some corn across Kentucky. Others may still be on the fence as to whether potential yields are decent enough to keep the crop . If you're in the latter category, Dr. Lee (UK Grain Crops Extension Specialist) just released an article, here, going over some steps to assess potential yield loss.

Warm summer of 2022

Summer is supposed to be the warmest time of the year, but in 2022, it’s been taken a step higher! We’ve been hearing the headlines across the globe. Europe saw record breaking heat this past week as temperatures soared into the triple digits. Combined with dry conditions, numerous wildfires were triggered across the region. Closer to home, Oklahoma and the Mid-South have their own sweltering heat wave in progress. Below is an image of maximum temperatures on July 19th from the Oklahoma Mesonet. EVERY single station recorded a high temperature above 102! Keep in mind that these are air temperatures and not heat indices!

Looking at the Bluegrass State this summer, we've seen some highs across Western KY hit 100 now and then, but nothing like the image above. It's been a warm one though. Data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center below shows Kentucky's average temperature at 74 degrees between June 1st and July 20th. This is two degrees above normal over that timespan. This doesn't sound like a lot, but if July ended today, June/July of 2022 would place 27th on the list of warmest June/July's on record (127 years).

It's been hot, but also very humid, which adds to the oppressiveness of the heat. The heat index is what it actually feels like outside when we take into account air temperatures AND humidity. In one example, the Princeton Mesonet station at 5PM on 7/20 showed an air temperature of 96 degrees. This is hot, but with humidity at 55%, it really felt like (heat index) 112 degrees!

Thus far, high humidity has been a mainstay throughout summer 2022 and we can see it in the numbers below. I included a look at the average number of hours that the heat index was equal to or exceeded 90 and 100 degrees for several stations across the state. I then added a row showing the actual number of hours that each station recorded during the month of June in 2022 and thus far through July.

In 2022, we've surpassed the average in a large way. In one example, Bowling Green saw over twice as many hours of heat indices >= 90 degrees than average during the month of June. We still have over a week left in July and Paducah has already surpassed the average number of hours with a heat index of 100+. So why has it felt so hot in 2022? Just look at heat indices.

Looking at the heat in another way, the plot below from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, shows 8 Excessive Heat Warnings have been issued by Kentucky NWS offices in 2022. 2012 was the last time we exceeded this number. It's been awhile!

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Kentucky is getting a slight break from intense heat and humidity today (7/21), but it's just a temporary reprieve. Intense heat returns this weekend. In fact, look for highs back in the mid to upper 90s for most of KY. Portions of Western KY will likely break the triple digits. Combined with humidity, peak heat indices will once again approach 110 for this region. This will present yet another round of livestock heat stress running in the danger to emergency category. Be sure to minimize working or transporting cattle during the heat of the day. Also, check to make sure there is adequate ventilation in any confined spaces.

A cold front then arrives to start the new workweek, dropping temperatures several degrees, but also bringing rain chances to the region. There are then hints that we'll see continued daily chances well into the next week. Details still coming together. Below is a look at the latest 7-day precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center, showing the potential for 1-2+ inches.

Outlooks continue the good news moving forward, favoring above normal precipitation for the end of July and start of August (maps below). It seems as though we're finally starting to break the drier pattern we've seen most of summer. These short-lived droughts have been somewhat of a trend this past decade with a wetter climate in place. The two most notable events occurred in fall of 2016 and 19, but both were followed by an extensive period of wet weather. Hopefully, we're in for the same scenario in 2022 and at least help out pastures and later-planted crops moving into late summer.

As a side-note, this will be the last update in July (barring something major happening). Going out of town next week. Next update comes in early August!

Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, July 18, 2022


July 2022 Princeton Rebuilding - UK Collège of Agriculture, Food and Environment, July 18, 2022

Register for the 2022 Kentucky Master Naturalist program - Jordan Strickler, UK Ag Communications, July 21, 2022

Foliar Fungicide Considerations for Soybean - Dr. Carl Bradley, UK Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, July 19, 2022

Southern Rust Management in a Dry Year - Dr. Kiersten Wise, UK Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, July 19, 2022

The Climate Observer - Quarterly newsletter from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, July 2022

Oppressive Heat and Humidity - July 20, 2022 - Paducah National Weather Service Office

Kentucky Winter Wheat Production Forecast up 1% from 2021 - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, July 12, 2022


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