Ag Weather Center-white.png

Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 3-22-23 at 6:30PM EDT

Warmer temperatures and excessive rainfall in the forecast

Brrrr! So much for our second warmest winter on record! March has went in the opposite direction, especially-so this past week when temperatures ran WELL below normal. Low temperatures dropped into the 20s on numerous occasions and even into the teens at times. March 20th was technically the first day of spring, but it sure didn't feel like it! Below is a look at the low temperatures from the Kentucky Mesonet on Monday morning. Most everyone dipped into the mid to upper teens, but some hit the low teens! Not a fan!

It's too early to tell, but these kind of temperatures will likely have some impact on winter wheat and our tree fruit. As Dr. Lee explains on Twitter, "Wheat took a hit with the freezing temps. Best guess right now: we probably lost a few tillers, but the wheat has plenty more to recover. We need 5 to 7 days of warm weather before we can fully determine the extent of that damage. More to come." In addition, be on the lookout for the fruit update in the next version of Kentucky Fruit Facts, which will be coming out soon.

In some good news, we're warming up in a big way this week, even looking at highs in the 70s tomorrow (3/23). The rest of the week then runs in the 60s, at least through next Monday. The frost/freeze threat will run low. There are some hints of a cool spell during the mid-stages of next workweek, but 1) we're still a week out in the forecast and 2) it doesn't look too significant. Outlooks then lean toward near normal temperatures for the end of March and start of April. Normal highs for this time of year run in the upper 50s to middle 60s across the state, while average lows dip into the upper 30s to middle 40s.

Even with the warmer air in place, we have a LONG ways to go before we lose the frost and freeze threat. Below is a look at the AVERAGE date that various locations across Kentucky see their last freeze of the spring season. I know the warmer air will have some of us thinking about planting, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves! We have plenty of time!

As #plant23 approaches, the bigger issue could very well be saturated soils. In the near term, we have quite the rainfall event on the horizon. We'll see multiple rounds of rainfall through early Saturday and in addition, a very moist air mass will likely lead to some bouts of heavy rain. The most intense activity is expected Thursday night through Friday night, which will likely prompt a flooding threat. The focus for flooding currently sits along the Ohio River, across Western KY and up into the Northern Bluegrass. A tier of 1 to 3 counties south of the river are currently under a Flood Watch.

There could still be some changes to the location of heaviest rainfall. There's been a northern shift in this axis over recent days. As it sits now, Southern Indiana and Illinois will likely see the highest accumulations (3-4+ inches), but as you can see in the map below, those portions of KY mentioned above could see 2+. Time to be weather aware. There are indications that this rain will push the Ohio River into minor flood stages across the Green River Region of Western KY.

In addition, some strong to severe storms will be possible on Friday, primarily across Western KY. Damaging winds and an isolated tornado would be the main threats, but there's still some question as to whether we'll be able to tap into enough instability. Stay tuned.

Scattered chances return early next week, followed by some hints of a wet end to March and start of April. Below are the latest precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center. Notice the dark shade of green over the Lower Ohio and Tennessee Valley's, indicating relatively high confidence in above normal precipitation.

Green flag for scouting alfalfa weevil

As a side note, Dr. Ric Bessin, UK Extension Entomologist, says it's time to start scouting for alfalfa weevil! As he notes, some damage has already been seen. More info on the topic and the scouting process can be found in his latest article titled, "Important Time to Sample for Alfalfa Weevil". As he mentions, you want to start scouting for the pest when degree day accumulations hit 190. We have a model in the Ag Weather Center that calculates these numbers across the state on a daily basis. Below is the latest update from March 21st, where most of Southern Kentucky has now exceeded that 190 DD threshold.

Sign up for the Ag Weather Update

Related News from UK and Beyond

UK Corn and Soybean News - UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, March 2023

UK Beef Webinar - Beef Cow Management Tips - UK Animal and Food Sciences Department, March 14, 2023

UK spring fencing schools coming in April - Aimee Nielson, UK Ag Communications, March 16, 2023

U.S. 2023 spring outlook: California drought cut by half with more relief to come - National Weather Service, March 16, 2023

Don’t Get Burned by Fire Blight - Kim Leonberger, UK Plant Pathology Extension Associate, and Nicole Gauthier, UK Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, March 14, 2023

East Kentucky SKYWARN Spotter Information - Jackson KY National Weather Service


Email  Twitter  Web