Brown grass in the Bluegrass; Drought continues in central Kentucky

Published 10:26 am Monday, October 16, 2023

By Lance Gaither

For those who might not have noticed, central Kentucky is currently experiencing drought-like conditions. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entirety of Boyle County and several surrounding counties are experiencing moderate drought.

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According to the Kentucky Mesonet Climatological survey, Boyle County has received .3 inches of precipitation so far in October. By comparison, in 2022 Boyle County had received 2 inches of precipitation in October. In 2021, Boyle County received 5 inches of precipitation.

Greg Goodrich, Ph.D., Coordinator of Western Kentucky University’s Meteorology program, explained that the droughts are caused by high pressure in the region.         

“The recent rains on September 27 and 28 helped, but were not able to lessen the drought conditions statewide,” Goodrich said. “We are currently experiencing El Niño conditions, which are associated with below-average precipitation in Kentucky during the fall and winter months. The drought conditions that developed in September across Kentucky are expected to continue through the end of the year at least.”

He explained that El Nino conditions typically result in drought-like conditions in Kentucky.

“Historically, during a moderate El Niño, Kentucky has had drier and milder winters than normal,” Goodrich said. “Although, the relationship between El Niño and Kentucky climate is not as strong as it is in other parts of the U.S.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association,  an El Niño is a weather phenomenon in with the waters of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean experience above average surface temperatures. The El Niño affects the climate globally.

With dry conditions in the Bluegrass, concerns of wildfires grow and many counties have instituted burn bans. The Kentucky Division of Forestry is monitoring conditions and stated hat the current drought is not a severe as they have seen in past years.

“We have readied our equipment and have trained firefighters ready to respond when wildfire occurs across the commonwealth,” said Division Fire Management Chief Michael Froelich.