December 8, 2009

A strong storm system is poised to arrive in Western Kentucky today and move across the state through Thursday. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Meteorologist Tom Priddy said to expect high winds tonight through Thursday, a situation that should put livestock owners on alert.

"A strong low-pressure system will enter our Western region today," he said. "The affects of the strong storm system will spread rainfall throughout Kentucky by mid-afternoon Wednesday. Some heavy rainfall can be expected with the approaching system, as well as a slight chance for thunderstorms."

Priddy said the storm system will exit the state by early Thursday morning and any precipitation falling Wednesday night into Thursday should be a wintry mix.

"Prior to and during the passing of the low-pressure system, temperatures will warm up," he said. "However, there are some frigid temperatures coming in behind the system and clearing skies."

The combination of cold air and high winds could produce wind chills in the single digits and put parts of Kentucky into periods of dangerous and emergency categories for livestock cold stress after the initial system passes through.

Roy Burris, beef specialist at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton, said producers can weather the storm with a few simple strategies.

"The biggest thing for producers to do is to make sure animals have good hay and feed and that they have a good wind break," he said. "It doesn't have to mean putting animals up in the barn; you could simply give them access to lower pastures that get them out of the wind.

Burris said keeping cattle dry, fed and comfortable goes a long way in protecting them from cold spells like this.

"Most producers have weaned their calves and most fall calves have been born by now," he said. "So really you just need to keep their bellies full and keep them out of the wind."