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By Shawn Crowe
Let's go back five years and take a walk down memory lane. The year 2007 was a wild one in Kentucky. Just about every extreme you can experience weatherwise was found here at some point during the year. It's a year that won't soon be forgotten.
February brought cold and winter weather. It was pretty typical for a Kentucky winter month with some ice even included in the mix. It wouldn't last long though, as March came in warm and stayed that way. In fact, March ended up being one of the warmest ever recorded. The wild swings in the weather for the year had begun.
April flipped 180 degrees and turned into one of the coldest on record. We saw many mornings in the 25 degree range which resulted in the loss of many trees and caused extensive vegetation damage. From an economic standpoint it was a fairly severe blow to producers and gardeners. Flowers and fruit trees, as well as shade and ornamental trees had gotten off to an early start thanks to the warm weather in March. The killing frosts of April, which were unusually severe, took its toll.
When May rolled around it was severe weather that raked the state over. The 15th of the month featured a particularly bad outbreak of storms that caused wind damage and dropped some large hail, and put the entire state in the danger zone.
The spring season was up and down like a roller coaster, but by far the biggest story of 2007 would be the drought and ensuing heat that carried us through summer. When June came in, the rains seemed to totally shut off. We saw almost no precipitation again until fall, and by then the entire state of Kentucky was in "D3 - Extreme Drought" on the U.S. Drought Monitor, with portions of southeastern Kentucky in "D4 - Exceptional Drought" which is the worst possible rating an area can receive. Here's a view of the map (attached) as of October 2007. Notice how the drought seemed to really target Kentucky.
Farmers and agricultural producers had a terrible season. They had to haul water in from other areas just to keep things going and try to survive the summer and into the end of growing season. It was one of the worst droughts Kentucky has ever seen.
Along with the drought came the heat. August was especially hot, finishing up several degrees above average for the month. At the Lexington official station, 23 days of August were at or above 90 degrees, with a temperature over 100 on two of those days. At the Bowling Green official station, 30 days of August were at or above 90 degrees with readings in the 100s on five occasions! The only day that didn't see 90 was the last day of the month which hit 88 for a high. The heat was relentless and the longevity of the heat was very unusual. The terrible drought and dry ground helped to make the heat wave possible. Kentuckians began to pray for any moisture they could get. Any stray thunderstorm that happened to pop up was considered a joyous occasion. That is, until October.
October saw the rains finally return, but unfortunately this happened in the form of a massive tornado outbreak unlike any we'd seen in recent years. Eight tornadoes ripped through Kentucky making the Oct. 18, 2007 event the worst tornado outbreak on record. The strongest October tornado ever also occurred during this event, which was rated EF-3. Kentucky had a reported 11 people injured from the storms, but no fatalities. There were fatalities in surrounding states, however, as a result of the same weather system.
From warmth, to killing frost, to extreme heat and drought, and then to dangerous severe weather, 2007 will go down as one of the wildest years ever seen in Kentucky.