July 21, 1999 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Kentucky needs rain. The drought has taken hold of the entire state, with the western Kentucky climate zone moving deeper into the mild drought category on the Palmer's Drought Index this week.

Central Kentucky and the Bluegrass climate zones firmly are in the moderate drought category. Tom Priddy, University of Kentucky agricultural meteorologist, said that to catch up and get out of a drought situation, Eastern Kentucky needs almost six inches and the Bluegrass region needs more than six inches of rainfall above normal amounts.

Priddy heads up the UK College of Agriculture's Agricultural Weather Center. The weather center works with other states and federal agencies to provide weekly updates about the drought on its web site.

"Since April 1, we are four to six inches below normal rainfall in this part of the state," Priddy said. "We want to provide a service that tells you how much we are behind (the average rainfall), the forecast, and the possibility for us to catch up."

The weather center's drought web page provides details for Kentucky, the Midwest and even the nation including the Palmer Drought Severity Index, a crop moisture index map, hourly precipitation amounts, future and historical data, river and lake conditions, and special advisories and warnings.

Also, there is a 30-day outlook discussion from the National Weather Service. It talks about trends in weather patterns and expected changes.

"Unfortunately, La Nina is still doing a number on us," Priddy said. "We will probably have below normal rainfall amounts in the Midwest until this fall."

The drought information is only one aspect of the agriculture weather center's web site. The weather center provides 24-hour information to more than 1,000 counties in the Midwest. The site provides current weather conditions, short and long-range forecasts, and maps for each specific county.

"We took a little bit of a different approach with our web site," Priddy said. "There's a lot of weather out there on the internet, but we wanted every Kentuckian to be able to, in one click or bookmark, see accurate, updated information for their specific county. Whether you're a teacher needing educational materials or an agricultural producer needing to know when to spray crops, we want it to be useful."

You can access the Agriculture Weather Center on the World Wide Web at http://wwwagwx.ca.uky.edu/.


Writer: Aimee D. Heald, 606/257-9764

Source: Tom Priddy, 606/257-3000 ext. 245