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Recent pattern of weather extremes continues in 2013

The summer of 2013 is continuing a recent pattern of weather extremes, according to State Climatologist Stuart Foster.

Thus far, 2013 has been wetter and cooler than 2012, said Dr. Foster, director of the Kentucky Climate Center and the Kentucky Mesonet at WKU.

Last summer, a dry and hot June and early July brought extreme drought conditions to parts of western Kentucky. The drought came one year after heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding across the region in April and May 2011.

Since 1895, 2011 ranks as the wettest year in Kentucky with an average of 63.12 inches of precipitation across the state, which is 14.22 inches above normal, based on data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The 2012 total of 42.98 inches ranked as 91st in the past 118 years.

The statewide precipitation average for 2013 based on the Kentucky Mesonet is running about 10 inches above 2012’s average year-to-date, with June and July’s rainfall above last year’s average, he said. The statewide average in June 2013 was 6.04 inches compared to 1.13 in 2012, while the July 2013 average (through July 23) was 5.84 compared to 5.26 in 2012.

Nonetheless, Dr. Foster noted, some portions of the Jackson Purchase region of far western Kentucky, which suffered from some of the worst drought conditions last year, have seen less abundant rainfall so far this summer.

As for temperatures, 2013 “has been quite a bit cooler than last year,” Dr. Foster said.

The statewide average temperature for July of 74.7 degrees (through July 23) is 4.5 degrees cooler than last July’s 79.2. The March 2013 average temperature of 39.7 degrees was 18.2 degrees cooler than March 2012’s 57.9.

“Research suggests that the pattern we are seeing may be consistent with the melting of the polar ice, warming of Arctic region and weakening of the jet stream, so that while our weather patterns certainly vary from year to year, this could be a pattern we see more frequently,” Dr. Foster said.

“If you look over the last several years we have seen wide ranging conditions from very wet to very dry,” he said.  “I never thought that I would see water flowing through the spillway at Rough River Lake or any other of Kentucky’s reservoirs, but I saw it in 2011.

“While these may not be records, they challenge us as a society to adapt to those extremes both to minimize risk to life and property and to enhance our economic competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

Recent extremes have included heavy daily rainfall of more than 4 inches in several areas including 5.92 inches in Hopkins County on June 24, 5.40 inches in Logan County on July 5, 4.39 inches in Trigg County on June 1 and 4.09 inches in Marshall County on June 1.

Monthly rainfall extremes have included 12.99 inches in Logan County in July (through July 23), 11.49 inches in Hopkins County in June and 10.7 inches in Marshall County in June.

Temperature extremes from the Kentucky Mesonet this year for May, June and July also have been lower. The highest temperatures are: May 2013’s 89.9 degrees in Lawrence County compared to May 2012’s 95.7 degrees in Hopkins County; June 2013’s 97.2 in Fulton County compared to June 2012’s 107.2 degrees in Calloway County; and July 2013’s 93.2 degrees in Mason County compared to July 2012’s 106.4 in Hopkins County.

Dr. Foster said the cooler and wetter pattern could continue into August according to NOAA’s 30-day outlook.

Here are some statewide statistics compiled by Dr. Foster:

Precipitation Summary

Statewide Precipitation Average by Month

Year    Jan      Feb      Mar     Apr      May    June   July                Total

2012    3.74     2.60     4.05     2.27     4.45     1.13     5.26                 23.51

2013    5.36     2.16     4.94     4.85     4.53     6.04     5.84*               33.73

* through July 23

Wettest and Driest Counties Year-to-Date in 2013
and How They Compare with 2012

Jan through July precipitation

Wettest 5 Counties in 2013

County                2012    2013*

Logan              21.75   46.30

Trigg                20.38   42.97

Calloway         18.27   42.15

Hopkins          15.59   40.53

Fulton             16.67   40.06

Driest 5 Counties in 2013*

County                  2012    2013

Lawrence         28.44   24.95

Lewis              22.27   26.27

Oldham           24.77   27.05

Carroll             22.51   27.17

Henderson       12.80   28.20

*through July 23

Kentucky’s Wettest Years on Record (1895-2012)

Rank       Year     Total   Normal  Dep.  %Norm

1       2011      63.12    48.90    14.22   129

2       1950      62.93    48.90    14.03   129

3       1979      62.86    48.90    13.96   129

4       1989      58.88    48.90     9.98   120

5       1935      57.82    48.90     8.92   118

6       1972      57.73    48.90     8.83   118

7       1975      57.31    48.90     8.41   117

8       1996      57.12    48.90     8.22   117

9       2004      57.07    48.90     8.17   117

10       1990      56.90    48.90     8.00   116

91       2012     42.98    48.90    -5.92    88

109       1999      38.41    48.90   -10.49    79

110       1987      38.19    48.90   -10.71    78

111       1936      38.06    48.90   -10.84    78

112       1980      37.22    48.90   -11.68    76

113       1953      36.71    48.90   -12.19    75

114       1904      36.51    48.90   -12.39    75

115       1901      36.44    48.90   -12.46    75

116       1963      34.45    48.90   -14.45    70

117       1941      33.62    48.90   -15.28    69

118       1930      29.39    48.90   -19.51    60

Temperature Summary

Statewide Average Daily Mean Temperature by Month

Year    Jan      Feb      Mar     Apr      May    June   July               

2012    38.9     41.7     57.9     57.6     69.1     72.9     79.2

2013    37.1     37.0     39.7     56.0     65.1     72.3     74.7*

Diff     -1.8      -4.7      -18.2    -1.6      -4.0      -0.6      -4.5

*through July 23

Highest Temperature Recorded During Month

Month                2012 Temp  County             2013  Temp  County

Jan                   69.2 F  Johnson                       72.9 F  Lewis

Feb                  77.7 F  Cumberland                 68.3 F  Hopkins

Mar                 87.6 F  Lawrence                     77.8 F  Johnson

Apr                 87.7 F  Fulton                         88.3 F  Lawrence

May                95.7 F  Hopkins                      89.9 F  Lawrence

June                 107.2 F Calloway                   97.2 F  Fulton

July                 106.4 F Hopkins                     93.2 F  Mason

Contact: Stuart Foster, (270) 745-5983.

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