Whitesburg KY
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Partly sunny

Letcher still in drought

Letcher and Harlan are the only two counties in Kentucky still affected by drought conditions, a University of Kentucky agricultural meteorologist says.

Except for the small corner of southeastern Kentucky where two counties are located, Kentucky is poised to enter the 2008 spring planting season with plenty of water on hand, said Tom Priddy, who studies the weather for the UK College of Agriculture.

“It amounts to 0.3 percent of the state now,” Priddy said of the area still in drought.

Through the summer and early fall of last year, Kentucky was baked by weeks of rain-free weather. In several Kentucky towns and cities, the drought caused officials to declare restrictions and occasional bans on water uses to protect supplies.

By the time Christmas arrived, the situation had changed.

“We had some nice rain at the end of 2007 that took us out of the drought. Right now, the crop moisture index shows we have adequate moisture as the planting season approaches,” Priddy says.

February’s outlook appears to continue the pattern experienced last month, he says.

“It will be very cold interspersed with temperatures in the 60s. We won’t see a lot of snow, mostly rain,” Priddy says.

The long-term picture indicates a normal pattern of Kentucky weather into May, Priddy says.

He attributes the likely usual spring conditions to a fading of “La Nina,” the cooling of the Pacific Ocean off northern South America that influences North American storm patterns by causing dry weather. Already weakening, Priddy says the current La Nina “will run its course in early spring months.”

This means Kentucky’s farmers and gardeners can expect a better growing season – one that reflects a normal year.

“The climate of Kentucky is a great resource for us, especially farmers. Kentucky typically receives adequate rainfall that most farmers don’t even have to worry about irrigating crops,” Priddy says.

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