Kentucky was a tale of two weather states, as we transitioned from record rain in the spring to record drought through late fall. This year Kentucky saw one of the wettest summers on record, only to be followed by one of the driest falls on record.
During the fall drought period, employees in the Division of Water were hard at work to keep the citizens of Kentucky safe and informed.
While farmers are still feeling impacts from the drought, including having to feed hay and grain earlier than usual and facing a possible hay shortage, most drought-related issues have abated and stream flows and lake levels have returned to normal. While nearly 50,000 acres of Kentucky forest land was burned by drought-fueled wildfires, only a handful of structures were burned and no lives were lost. Water intakes that were in danger have returned to normal function.
But for months prior, the situation was carefully monitored and information disseminated on a daily basis.
The Division of Water hosted weekly teleconferences with state and federal agencies that included the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy, and the Department of Forestry, to gather information on reported or potential impacts and discuss current conditions and outlooks.
The Division of Water also worked closely with the National Weather Service, State Climatologist, and United States Department of Agriculture to assess current conditions and reported directly to the U.S. Drought Monitor to help ensure that the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map accurately depicted drought conditions in the Commonwealth.
The Division of Water’s Regional Office personnel also worked hard during the drought, staying in contact with public water supply systems to assess their current water supplies and provide technical assistance when needed to ensure adequate and safe water supplies. The Regional Field Office staff worked with more than two dozen systems and offered technical assistance to mitigate the impacts of drought to water supplies.
The wet conditions to start this winter season have put an end to previous drought concerns but with a La Nina weather pattern in place, the possibility exists that drought conditions could redevelop in the spring or summer. DOW personnel continually monitor climatic conditions year-round, and will be prepared to once again keep citizens safe and informed the next time a drought conditions return the Commonwealth.