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Heavy Rain Drenches Much Of The State

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Tom Priddy saw a welcome sight when
checking his rain gauge Tuesday morning.
After months of being mostly empty, his gauge showed nearly 3
inches of rain had fallen at his home in central Kentucky - more
than fell in all of May, usually a wet month in Kentucky.
A slow-moving weather system dumped similar rainfall amounts
across a large swath of central Kentucky, bringing welcome relief
from a drought that hurt crops, lowered some rivers to historic
levels, turned pastures brown and prompted water shortage warnings
in some counties.
"It's like liquid gold," said Priddy, a University of Kentucky
extension agricultural meteorologist. "This could very well be the
start of the end of this drought."
Reports of 3 to 5 inches of rain were common from Bowling Green
to Louisville as the precipitation started Monday and continued
Tuesday, said Mike Callahan, a National Weather Service
hydrologist.
In Bowling Green, 5.8 inches fell at the airport on Monday and
Tuesday, Callahan said. The Louisville airport received 4.8 inches,
Frankfort about 3½ inches and Lexington had 3.2 inches, he said.
Some of the highest amounts through early Tuesday were 5.7 inches
in Boston in Nelson County and 5.4 inches in Glendale in Hardin
County.
"The rivers and streams are rising, but so far no problems,
which shows how dry we were," Callahan said.
Priddy said the heavy rainfall amounts put a "huge dent" in
the long-term drought. The latest Palmer Drought Index had showed
the drought was severe in the western half of Kentucky and extreme
in the eastern half. He predicted those areas getting significant
rain will show an improvement in the drought situation.
In western Kentucky, Owensboro and Paducah had received nearly 2
inches of rain, Callahan said. Cadiz in southwestern Kentucky got a
reported 3½ inches, said Bill Caldwell with the state Division of
Water.
It followed a round of precipitation that soaked much of
Kentucky last week. A crop-reporting service said that last week
was the first time in the past 12 weeks that rainfall was above
normal in Kentucky.
Other parts of Kentucky weren't as fortunate. Southeastern areas
facing an extreme drought generally received less than a half-inch
of rainfall, Caldwell said.
"The drought is still very much a problem there," he said.
In Salyersville, where residents are restricted from washing
cars or watering lawns due to the drought, the town received "just
enough drizzle to wet the roads," said city water superintendent
Thomas Howard.
The Magoffin County town in eastern Kentucky relies on the
Licking River as its main water source. But the river is down 70
percent to 80 percent from normal, so the city is also drawing
water from two backup wells.
"It's about the worst I've seen it," Howard said of the river.
Late last week, state officials issued a water shortage warning
for eastern Kentucky's Harlan and Letcher counties and the Elkhorn
Creek watershed in Pike County. Previous water shortage warnings
were issued for Warren, Simpson and Magoffin counties.
For those areas lucky enough to get rain, the precipitation will
replenish ponds and help early growth of winter wheat, Priddy said.
The accompanying high humidity will benefit tobacco curing, he
said.
Caldwell, the water division's environmental control supervisor,
said the rainfall would be a big boost for river and stream levels
that had dropped in recent months. Significant rain fell in
portions of the Green, Salt, Kentucky and Licking river basins, he
said.
Just a couple of months ago, parts of the Licking and Green
rivers had record-low flows, he said.
As for groundwater levels, Caldwell said, the latest rainfall
"isn't a drought buster, but it's the beginning of a pattern that
would lead to recovery over the winter. It's going to take this
kind of weather several times through the winter to regain normal
conditions."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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