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Cold wave grips Kentucky after this week’s winter storm

Winter tightened its grip on Kentucky on Thursday (Feb. 19), as frigid polar air behind a cold front swept down across the snowpack that extends south across all of the Commonwealth.

Thursday’s coldest temperature recorded across Kentucky by the Kentucky Mesonet, the Commonwealth’s official source of climatological observations, was minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit at two locations, near Elkton in Todd County and near Cynthiana in Harrison County. Subzero temperatures were recorded throughout all regions of the state, with the warmest spot being at Hickman in Fulton County, where the temperature bottomed out at 3 degrees.

Here are some of the temperatures recorded by Kentucky Mesonet stations on Feb. 19.

Here are some of the temperatures recorded by Kentucky Mesonet stations on Feb. 19.

The cold wave gripping Kentucky may be creating hardship, but it is not unprecedented. An outbreak of frigid polar air in January 1994 followed a winter storm that had coated the state with ice, sleet and snow. Power outages were widespread and travel was impossible in many areas. Temperatures dropped to minus 30 degrees or lower at many locations across the Bluegrass and the valleys of eastern Kentucky. An all-time record low temperature for Kentucky of minus 37 degrees was set at Shelbyville in Shelby County on Jan. 19, 1994, breaking the previous record of minus 34 degrees set on Jan. 28, 1963, at Cynthiana in Harrison County.

“Minimum temperatures across the state occurred near dawn, as the effect of radiational cooling, magnified by snow cover, clear skies and calm winds allowed cold air near the surface to drain into low-lying areas,” said Stuart Foster, state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Mesonet. “If skies remain clear this evening, we may see temperatures drop well below zero again.”

Snowfall totals from the Feb. 16 storm ranged from about 6 inches to more than 12 inches with the heaviest amounts across central Kentucky.

To monitor temperatures and other weather/climate data across the Commonwealth, visit www.kymesonet.org.

Contact: Stuart Foster, (270) 745-5983 or stuart.foster@wku.edu.

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