Northern Kentucky counties approach drought status

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY (FOX19) - We might be seeing a lot more wildfires across the Tri-State in the coming weeks. Some of us got a little rain Wednesday, but for lawns and crops across the area, it is going to take a lot more than a quick downpour to get back on track with the rain we need.

Parts of the Bluegrass State are already in a Level One drought situation.

And despite the spotty showers on Wednesday, Dr. Stuart Foster said it will take a major weather event to make-up for the losses.

"We're really concerned about the situation there in Central and Northern Kentucky and the notion that it could deteriorate very rapidly," Foster said.

Foster said the state has rain tracking stations in Boone, Campbell and Owen counties.

"They all kind of confirm what people see when they look outside," Foster said. "That it's getting dry and getting dry very rapidly."

Foster said if we look back over the last 60 days, the spigot has been "turned-off", so to speak.

In Boone County, the site has only collected less than 3 inches of rain in the last 60 days and over the last 30 days, a little more than a third of an inch.

It's a similar story in Campbell County at the tracking station near NKU. Less than two inches recorded there and in the last 30 days, not quite half an inch of rain in the gauge.

"We go down to Owen County," Foster said. "One inch over the last 60 days and only 18-hundreths over the last 30 days."

Foster said that right now we're running well below half of where we should be with rain totals. That combined with warmer than normal temperatures is proving to be a challenge.

"With the lack of soil moisture and that actually is contributing to some of higher temperatures," Foster said. "We really have just all the right ingredients being brought together for an increased risk of wildfires."

And Foster said people need to take a look around them before lighting up their cigarettes.

"People can help play a role in trying to be safe in terms of decisions about burning or not throwing that cigarette butt out," he said.

There are black streaks on the sides of several Kentucky highways. Those are the remains of several grass fires which got started by carelessly thrown cigarette butts.

Several counties in Central and Southern Kentucky have burn bans in effect right now.

"We need a tropical event," Foster said. "We had the remnants of a tropical storm or we need a frontal system to stall out over the area that could bring some soaking rains for a couple days but the odds are against us on those things right now."

Foster said he and other agencies like The Division of Water, Agriculture, Forestry, Army Corps of Engineers and members of the National Weather Service will meet a week from today. They get together every couple of weeks to assess the drought situation statewide.

Foster said he expects conditions to keep deteriorating without any further rain. So, very soon, our hometown counties will soon be included in that Level One drought status.

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