More of Kentucky in moderate drought range

Published 4:30 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

More parts of Kentucky have now been designated as being in moderate drought, while just over a quarter of the state has no drought, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday.

A percentage of 26.25 of Kentucky reports no drought conditions in the latest report, which is down from 32.12% last week.  A total of 38.36% is considered “Abnormally Dry,” or D0 on the scale of drought severity that goes up to D4.  The D0 area is down slightly from last week’s 39.08%, but that’s because the Moderate Drought area, or D1, has risen from 28.80% to 34.89%.  There are no D2,D3, or D4 areas in this week’s report.

The largest moderate drought expansion area is in northeast Kentucky, which went from parts of two counties two weeks ago, to all or portions of eight.

Brad Pugh with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said dry conditions continue to plague the Midwest, of which they consider Kentucky to be a part.  “Parts of northeastern Wisconsin continues to be dry, resulting in the expansion of moderate drought (D1) and severe drought (D2), while D0 and D1 was expanded into parts of northwest and southeast Missouri, and D0 and D1 was expanded into parts western, central and eastern Kentucky.”

Pugh said this is based on the 30- to 90-day SPI and soil moisture.  SPI stands for Standardized Precipitation Index, which is based on short term soil moisture, while in the longer term can be related to groundwater and reservoir storage, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

During the period Oct. 19-24, Pugh says, “A front extending from the Upper Mississippi Valley to the Southern High Plains will move eastward to the Lower Great Lakes/Mid-Atlantic to the Central Gulf Coast by Friday.  The system will produce rain over parts Great Lakes/Ohio Valley on Thursday and continuing eastward into Friday.”

Some relief could be in sight, as the Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 day outlook, Oct. 23-27, favors near to above-normal precipitation throughout much of the contiguous U.S.  Increased probabilities for above-normal temperatures are forecast from the Plains to the East Coast.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and NOAA.