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Drought still a threat to Letcher County despite recent rains




Despite recent rain showers over the past few weeks, Letcher County is still considered to be in the beginning stages of a drought, according to Brian Schoettmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

“As of now, Letcher County is under ‘D0’ or abnormally dry conditions,” said Schoettmer. “However D1 moderate drought conditions exist just across the border into Virginia.”

Schoettmer said the National Weather Service has a cooperative observer who lives two miles southeast of Whitesburg who calls in precipitation totals every day.

“So far, for the first half of July that location has received 3.46 inches of precipitation and the normal amount for that time period is only 1.86 inches,” said Schoettmer. “They are above normal for this month by quite a bit due to recent rainfall over the past couple of weeks. However a prolonged period of dry weather this week will help most likely see this month’s precipitation totals start to come back toward normal.”

Schoettmer added up the total precipitation at the Whitesburg location from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.

“Over the past year they have seen 34.37 inches,” said Schoettmer. “The normal precipitation for that time period should be 46.64 inches. That is a deficit of 12.27 inches over the past year.”

Schoettmer said that same location has observed 20.51 inches of precipitation from January 1, 2008 through the end of June.

“The normal precipitation for that time period should be 24.75 inches,” said Schoettmer. “That is a six-month deficit of 4.24 inches.”

Moderate to abnormally dry drought conditions exist for McCreary, Whitley, Bell and Harlan counties.

Abnormally dry drought conditions exist for Breathitt, Clay, Estill, Floyd, Jackson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Owsley, Perry, Pulaski, Rockcastle and Wayne counties.

The National Weather Service said as of July 11 drought conditions have not worsened to the point where state or local action needs to be taken and there are no water restrictions in place.


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