Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Hot, dry weather is cause for concern, emergency livestock heat stress alert issued
By Alex Forkner
The state of Kentucky hasn’t become a furnace, no matter how much it may feel like one outside.
Most of the state is, however, suffering from drought conditions, ranging from extreme in western Kentucky to abnormally dry in the central and eastern regions. With hotter temperatures on the horizon and only slim chances of rain in the forecast, there’s no relief in sight.
“The outlook is so poor for any kind of happening of a widespread rainfall,” said Tom Priddy, a meteorologist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. “There’s not a lot of confidence in any kind of system coming through and giving us a good shot of rain. I think there’s a slight chance as we move through the weekend, maybe for 20 percent of the area but most locations will remain dry.”
Even if an area were to get some rainfall, Priddy said it wouldn’t be the amount needed to stymie this drought.
“When we start getting temperatures up in those upper 90s, and even 105 is what they’re calling for out in the western part of the state, any moisture that’s left in the soil is quickly baked out. It’s certainly not an optimistic situation.”
In a state where so much depends on agricultural enterprises, the current climate trend is troubling.
“Agriculture is our livelihood in this state, and we have a situation where ponds are drying out in the western part of the state where extreme hydrologic drought is already established, and now it’s deteriorating across the remainder of the state,” Priddy said. “With the temperatures in the hundreds for the rest of this week and into next week, there’s a lot of concern.”
The UK College of Agriculture has issued an emergency livestock heat stress alert. Owners of livestock should monitor their animals carefully during this period of extreme heat, providing them with plenty of cool water and keeping them out of the sun for extended stretches of time.
“Temperatures are going to be so warm that it’s going to put livestock stress in the emergency category,” Priddy said. “We could very well see deaths occur with livestock, especially in the western part of the state, especially if you’re moving livestock around. Anything that will get them moving around is not good. The problem also concerns poultry. We could see loss of lives with these types of temperatures and humidity. It’s a very bad situation.”
Currently, no water restrictions are imposed by Kentucky American Water, but Priddy said that shouldn’t stop people from reconsidering how they use water. He urged people to see that “conservation is the way of life,” especially during such a heat wave.
“I can get in my car right now and go one mile in any direction and I guarantee there will be people irrigating their lawn right in the middle of the day. I’m not against watering lawns; there is a time for that, but 50 percent of that water is just going to be lost due to evaporation and not do any good at all. It’s a mindset; we’ve got to change our mindset.”