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State climatologist: "Kentucky's pattern of severe weather remains scattered."

Kentucky State Climatologist Jerry Brotzge
State Climate Center
Kentucky State Climatologist Jerry Brotzge

Severe weather events can create a lasting impact and impression on communities. It may only seem severe weather warnings are happening more often.

Kentucky has seen significant tornadic activity in the last couple years. That includes the far-reaching deadly severe weather in December 2021 and most recently the Memorial Day Weekend’s more than a dozen tornadoes. And although often questioned about the so-called tornado alley shifting east, State Climatologist Jerry Brotzge said it may not mean a consistent increase in tornadoes.

“Perhaps not noticeable. It would be maybe a few additional tornado days per decade for Kentucky. But, we also don’t know that that trend will continue,” said Brotzge.

In fact, historically in Kentucky, Brotzge said it’s been more the case to go 20 to 25 years between major widespread severe weather events.

The climatologist said there’s research to indicate more concrete on the ground can have a bearing on what happens in the sky. Brotzge said it pertains to urban areas like Louisville or Lexington leading to a local “hot spot.”

“Maybe a local dry spot that actually may enhance rainfall downstream and it may enhance or decrease storm development downstream,” said Brotzge.

Brotzge noted the Commonwealth is projected to enter a La Niña weather pattern this fall. He added that could mean next spring will be bit stormier. The climatologist said there’s not long-term historical data to suggest Kentucky is seeing more severe weather events year over year. So far in 2024, this year ranks as the fourth warmest on record since 1895 and May was the fourth wettest on record.

More with State Climatologist Jerry Brotzge:


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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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