Fayette County

Just a trace of rain fell in Lexington this month. Will the Kentucky drought spread?

After the rainiest September on record a year ago, Lexington couldn’t be much drier in the same month this year.

Lexington has received just a trace of rain in September, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan McKemy. Usually by Sept. 17, Lexington has around 1.56 inches of rain with the monthly average just shy of 3 inches.

WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey said it rained for just a minute and a half last week at his station. When Lexington had its rainiest September ever last year, nearly 11 inches fell, Bailey said.

Very little can be expected in the near future. McKemy said the next chance in Lexington is Sunday night into Monday morning.

Another possibility of rain occurs late next week, Bailey added. But Lexington is still on track for the driest September since 2010, when the city barely got a half-inch of rain for the whole month, according to Bailey.

Lexington is not currently among Kentucky cities experiencing a drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System that provides the U.S. Drought Portal.

Areas south of Lexington, including Lancaster, Berea, and Corbin, are in the 30.7 percent of the state classified as abnormally dry, the system’s least significant drought rating.

Smaller chunks south of Louisville, including Elizabethtown, and in Eastern Kentucky, including Jackson, were in the nearly 11 percent of the state in a moderate drought.

When the system updates Thursday with new data, Lexington could be considered abnormally dry, McKemy said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some abnormally dry conditions,” he said. “It’s not going to get much better.”

Abnormally dry conditions include slowing growth of crops and lingering water deficits. Damage to crops, developing water shortages and voluntary water-use restrictions are characteristics of moderate drought, according to the drought portal.

The last major drought in Kentucky occurred in late 2016 and produced some wildfires. Bailey said the state is long overdue for a forest fire.

“We’re going into October, which is historically our driest month,” Bailey said. “We had our wettest year ever last year and our first six months were on pace with last year. All this overgrowth in the woods, it turned them into a rain forest. All that extra fuel is out there drying out. If we do get a forest fire situation this fall, there is more fuel to the forest because of the wet weather we had.”

While Lexington is experiencing a dry month, it’s also a hot one. Through the first 16 days of the month, Lexington is on pace for the sixth-warmest September on record with an average temperature of 77.7 degrees, McKemy said.

A cold front is in the forecast for late this week, but don’t break out your fall sweaters just yet.

“I don’t know if I would call it fall-like,” McKemy said. “Instead of temperatures in the 90s, we’ll have 80s. Perhaps not as humid, but maybe a little drier.”

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