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The Commonwealth

State climatologist says big shifts in temperatures are common in spring

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Stu Johnson
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Temperatures warming into the mid-80s this week are unusual for mid-May, but not unheard of. Kentucky Climatologist Megan Schargorodski said the record high for Lexington on May 11th was 92 in 1896. But, more recently, the central Kentucky community experienced 89 in 2015 and 86 in 2018.

She said major fluctuations in temperatures from day to day in the spring are also not unusual. Schargorodski noted it’s higher minimum temps in the summer that can prompt climate change concerns.

“It’s interesting because it sets a precedent for the rest of the summer, if you’re not able to cool off overnight. And I know that that impacts a whole variety of areas from agriculture and maintenance of livestock to sporting events,” said Schargorodski.

2022 has already produced some significant wildfires in Kentucky, but not on the order of what’s happening currently in a state like New Mexico. Schargorodski said the Commonwealth has more green color.

“And that is just because we have a lot of very moist vegetation. We have trees, we have agriculture and so forth. It’s still susceptible to having wildfires, but we tend to have a bit more moisture than what our southwest partners have,” said Schargorodski.

Long-term drought conditions like that aiding major wildfires in the western U.S. have not been seen in Kentucky for years. While the Commonwealth experiences what are called flash droughts, Schargorodski said it’s been a decade since Kentucky saw a major dry spell.

Here's more with Interim Director for the Kentucky Climate Center Megan Schargorodski:

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