December 6, 2002 | By: Aimee D. Heald

The Commonwealth’s weather set a few records in 2002, November notwithstanding. University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Tom Priddy said, however, November was still unusual in that it was the first month in the past six to have below normal temperatures. 

“Precipitation was also a little below normal for the state as a whole,” he said. “But when combined with September and October, the three month period was still the fourth wettest in the past century.” 

As far as what the Bluegrass State should expect over the winter months, Priddy projects above normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, as El Nino becomes a factor across the United States. 

“I really believe we’re having our winter now,” Priddy said. “Personally, I think we’ll get through this early and by January and February the winter will be pretty mild, almost springlike.” 

The last time El Nino affected U.S. weather patterns in 1997 and 1998, Kentucky saw January temperatures in the 60s and February temperatures in the 70s.

 “It’s still important to remember this is a weaker El Nino episode that we saw in 1997 and 1998, but I still expect a mild winter season,” Priddy said. “Kentucky will be in a unique position with storms tracking just to the north and to the south of us. We will more than likely be in a pocket where we won’t get the precipitation or the temperatures our neighbors will have.” 

Priddy said the polar jet stream will likely stay to the north of Kentucky and the Ohio Valley and the southern branch of the jet stream will track well to the south of Commonwealth into the Mid-Atlantic states. 

“I’d like to point out that even small shifts in the jet stream can have a significant impact on the weather in Kentucky,” Priddy said. “That is why no two El Nino seasons are exactly alike.” 

Another notable effect of El Nino in 2002 was a less dramatic hurricane season in the Atlantic. The hurricane season officially ended November 30 with only four major Atlantic hurricanes going into the record books – half the amount of typical seasons.



Tom Priddy  859-257-3000, ext. 245