Drought officially declared over in Kentucky

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- While the U.S. Drought Monitor report this week still shows a handful of southeast Kentucky counties in a moderate drought, state officials have officially declared this fall’s drought over in Kentucky.

On Friday, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Office of the State Climatologist, in coordination with the Kentucky Drought Mitigation Team, removed drought declarations for all 120 counties. Recent rains have eliminated precipitation deficits and improved stream flows and soil moisture levels.

Precipitation events since Oct. 3, when the statewide Level 1 and Level 2 drought declarations were issued, have helped ease the drought conditions, which in some cases reached severe levels.

“Following the rapid intensification of drought through September and the first week of October, weather patterns have shifted dramatically,” said Dr. Stuart Foster, state climatologist for Kentucky. “The month of October finished as the third wettest on record, easing concerns about drought as winter approaches.”

Although the drought declarations have been removed, some drought impacts may still persist into the winter, especially regarding a potential lack of winter feed.

“Well above normal precipitation throughout October coupled with the end of the growing season has alleviated most drought concerns in the agricultural sector,” said Matt Dixon with the University of Kentucky Agricultural Weather Center. “However, severely stressed pastures led to limited fall grazing and supplemental feeding of winter hay.”

Despite the Friday’s announcement of the lifting of drought declarations, under state law there are still fall burning restrictions in effect.

Primarily, it is illegal to burn anything between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland. Those restrictions, which began Oct. 1, will remain in effect until Dec. 15. A similar spring outdoor burning ban takes place Feb. 15 through April 30 each year.

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