Portions of state in moderate drought category, report says

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, June 23, 2022

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For the first time in nearly two years, parts of Kentucky have been placed into the moderate drought category, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report, released Thursday morning.

While last week’s report had 13.53% of the state in what is considered Abnormally Dry (or D0), there were no areas in the moderate drought (D1) category or higher. (D4 is the highest category and is listed as exceptional drought). However, the June 23 report raised the part of the state in the D0 category to 48.89%, with 4.72% listed as D1.

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All or parts of 11 counties are in moderate drought. In central and south-central Kentucky, a circle including Edmonson, Green, Grayson, Hardin, Hart, Larue, Marion, Nelson and Taylor counties are in the D1 category; while in the west, Henderson and Union counties are also in moderate drought.

The last time any part of Kentucky reached the D1 category was on the July 28, 2020, when 3.54% of the state was in moderate drought. That only lasted one week. In October 2019, there was a three-week period when up to 54.25% was in severe drought (D2) and even 4% in extreme drought (D3). The last time the state reached D4 was during a nine-week period from June into August 2012, with the highest reading being 13% in exceptional drought for three weeks.

The reason for parts of Kentucky slipping into moderate drought are simple, according to Adam Hartman with the National Weather Service, heat, and a lack of rainfall.

“Parts of the Ohio Valley have seen a gradual increase in precipitation deficits in the last 60 days,” Hartman said. “However, over the last month, there has been a more rapid decline in rainfall. Daily US Geological Service stream flows have shown a consistent decline in most areas. This week’s hot temperatures also led to very high evapotranspiration rates.”

He says above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation is expected to continue through most of next week.