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Newly released NOAA data shows Kentucky’s climate is now warmer, wetter

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administration, or NOAA, just released new 30-year climate normals and for Kentucky and we’ve seen some notable changes in our average temperature and precipitation.

Anytime you hear the WKYT weather team comparing our current conditions to average highs, lows, or rainfall amounts, these numbers are usually based on a 30-year average or for our region.

But, recently, those climate normals have been updated to reflect the current trends of a warming atmosphere.

Just recently the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA for short, released new climate normals that show both an increase in average temperatures and precipitation across our region.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between weather and climate.

Simply put, weather is what’s happening now and through the next few days. For example, it’s the unseasonably cool chill happening now, and the things that can change down to the minute.

Climate, on the other hand, is what you expect. It’s the average high and low and the time period is oftentimes stretched over several years, and that’s what NOAA’s new climate normals are looking at.

Across the nation, both precipitation and temperature have seen drastic increases over the last decade.

So, how does this break down for Kentucky and what does this mean for you?

Well, if temperatures are warmer earlier in the season or even hotter in summer that means people will likely be looking for ways to cool off or in general just get outdoors meaning lakes, pools, and parks could be busier.

When looking at the previous 30-year climate normal compared to the most recent one, it doesn’t appear to be a significant change, but this warming of just under 1 degree annually or an increase of nearly 1.5% plays a bigger role when you extrapolate it over 30 years or more.

For precipitation changes, we see even a larger increase in change which could impact areas of water management for counties and as we all know rainfall can play a massive role in agriculture as well.

When looking at average precipitous changes by month, all of them, besides November, have seen an increase in this new 30-year normal release. And, in many cases, the increase is by an inch or more of precipitation.

Lastly snowfall, one of many things we either love or hate. But with any changes to snowfall, this means city plow crews could be using more fuel and salt if they’re clearing roadways more often or even later into the season.

This new 30-year normal has seen changes with some winter months seeing more snow and others seeing less. But, most notable is that March, the meteorological start to spring, saw its snowfall average double.

Overall, it’s important to remember again that this is showing an average climate and, while it is a warming climate and wetter conditions for us, day-to-day weather is still likely to always change with swings in our pattern as well.

This set of new climate normals across the nation is made possible by using approximately 8,700 National Weather Service Stations operated by NOAA.

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