KENTUCKY GETS RELIEF, RAIN AFTER RECORD HEAT
ASSOCIATED PRESS / NEWSWIRE WORLDWIDE SERVICES...MONDAY JUNE, 9, 2012
Kentucky finally got a welcome splash of relief from a sweat-soaked stretch of record heat that sagged crops, sent water use surging and made conditions miserable.
Temperatures were in the 80s Monday across much of the Bluegrass state, a reprieve from triple-digit conditions that settled in for more than a week. Mixed in with the moderate temperatures was a round of rainfall in some drought-stressed parts of the state.
In western Kentucky, mired in a severe drought, some areas received more than an inch of rain Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said. A cold front responsible for the lower temperatures also produced strong winds and hail that battered parts of southern and western Kentucky on Sunday, downing some trees. More rain is possible throughout the week, forecasters said.
The rain was welcomed by farmers who watched their prospects for the fall harvest drop while temperatures soared.
In Caldwell County, some areas got up to an inch of rain Sunday, but the county average was just under a half inch, said Shane Bogle, the local agricultural extension agent. But corn and soybean crops were still suffering in the western Kentucky county, he said.
"It did help, but not enough to make any of our yields back as of yet," he said. "But at least it sustained the life of some of these plants."
Statewide, crops continued to suffer last week.
Nearly three-fourths of Kentucky's corn crop is in poor or very poor condition, according to the latest weekly report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service's field office in Kentucky. Only 23 percent of the crop was rated fair, 5 percent good and the rest poor or very poor. Sixty-two percent of the state's soybean crop was rated poor or very poor, with 30 percent fair and 8 percent good.
Meanwhile, people started venturing back outside after spending much of the last week close to air conditioning.
Stacey Chevalier of Bardstown took her three young sons to the Louisville Zoo along with a friend and her children. They had planned the outing for a month, but had worried that the heat wave might force a cancellation.
"We just really got lucky," Chevalier said as her sons gawked at a bear exhibit. "Who knew the heat was going to break on the day we had already planned on coming. We were going to cancel if it was still 100 degrees. But this is a perfect day."
Zoo spokeswoman Kyle Shepherd said daily attendance dropped as much as 50 percent during the heat wave.
Forecasters said high temperatures will be mostly in the 80s across Kentucky this week.
National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Schoettmer in Louisville said Monday that the just-ended stretch of extreme heat hadn't been endured in decades. Louisville has had six days of temperatures reaching 100 or higher so far in July, with about three weeks left in the month. The last time Louisville had six July days of triple-digit heat was in 1954. In 1936, the city had triple-digit heat nine days in July.
"We've basically approached what folks saw back in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s," he said.
Louisville tied or broke daily heat records on eight of nine days from June 29 through July 7, Schoettmer said.
In Bowling Green, heat records were set or tied on six out of 10 days from June 28 through July 7, he said. In Lexington, record highs were tied or set on seven of eight days from June 30 to July 7, he said.
In Paducah in far western Kentucky, it was 100 degrees or more every day except for one from June 28 to July 7, said Dave Purdy, with the weather service there. During the first six days of July, the city broke heat records every day except one, he said.