Fact Sheet - Climate History and Current Forecasts
Tricia Zimmerman Research Assistant and Glen Conner
State Climatologist Emeritus for Kentucky
 
In the middle of each month, the Climate Prediction Center issues a Climate Outlook that gives predictions on temperature and precipitation for the United States. They are issued for the upcoming month and also for three-month overlapping seasons out to 12 months in advance. These Outlooks give predictions on temperature and precipitation in the following categories: an excess likelihood of above normal, an excess likelihood of below normal, or an excess likelihood of normal. If there is an equal chance of all three of these occurring, the climatology of the area is used in lieu of a forecast. Kentucky most frequently falls into this category. On the temperature forecast map, areas of above normal are shown in shades of orange, normal is shown in shades of grey, and below normal is shown in shades of green. On the precipitation forecast map, areas of below normal are shown in shades of orange, normal is shown in shades of grey, and above normal is shown in shades of green. The climatology area is shown in white on the forecast maps.

In this study, temperature and precipitation data from 1895 to 1999 from each of the four climatic divisions in Kentucky were analyzed.

For these forecasts, if Kentucky falls into the climatology area, some relationships can be established by using existing temperature and precipitation data. For forecasts of the upcoming month, there is a weak relationship between above-normal or below-normaltemperature and precipitation.

For the three-month seasonal forecast, a more definite relationship is found. A spring season with above-normal temperatures most often has below-normal rainfall. A spring season with below-normal temperatures most often has above-normal rainfall.

These seasonal patterns and trends help make it possible to make reasonable decisions based on the climatology of Kentucky. Data and identifiable patterns such as these should give insight into what happens in areas with insufficient skill to form a long-range outlook.