Climate and monthly weather forecast
Kentucky, USA

Flag of Kentucky, USA
Flag of Kentucky, USA

The climate of Kentucky

Kentucky experiences a humid subtropical type of climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) in the highlands of the southeast. Hot summers and cold winters occur typically, with a gradual increase in warmth in the southern regions. Kentucky lies in the east-central portion of the United States. Missouri in the west, Illinois, and Indiana in the northwest, Ohio in the north, West Virginia in the east, Virginia in the southeast, and Tennessee in the south border the state. Lower latitudes and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico are major players that influence the climate.

Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, has an average elevation of 230 meters above sea level, with the highest altitude of 1265 meters at Black Mountain highest and lowest of 78 meters at the Mississippi River at Kentucky bend. The state is home to diverse environments and varied topography along with the longest cave system and greatest navigable waterways in the United States. The Ohio River forms a northern border and the Mississippi its western border. Out of the five geographical regions, the Cumberland Plateau lies in the east. Bluegrass in the north-central region consists of short steep, narrow hills, while the Pennyroyal Plateau lies toward the south-central and west. The Western Coal Fields are forested, while the Jackson Purchase in the far west has alluvial plains and small hills.

Kentucky has four different seasons with an invigorating climate. Summers are hot, wet, and humid. High temperatures repeatedly cross the 95°F (35°C) mark during peak summer in July, and the heat is oppressive. Winters are cold, but short of bitter, with night temperatures below 23°F (-5°C) in January. Substantial variations exist between summer and winter temperatures. However, temperatures rarely drop below 0°F (-17.8°C) or rise above 100°F (37.8°C). The northern region is up to 5°F (-15°C) cooler than the south and west. Spring is mild but prone to storms and rapid weather changes. Autumn is mostly sunny, with pleasant temperatures and low humidity.

Kentucky registers an average of 45" (1143mm) of annual rainfall, with the south-central region up to 12" (305mm) rainier than the north. The northern region receives 38" (965mm) of precipitation compared to 50" (1270mm) in the south. Spring is the wettest season, and fall is the driest. Snowfall is a moderate 15" (381mm) to 20" (508mm) in the winter, mainly in the north and east. Snow cover rarely lasts over a week in the south and more than two weeks in the north. The average annual sunshine lasts for 2700 hours, with 100 freezing days in the north and east as opposed to only 60 in the south.

The record high temperature for Kentucky is 114°F (45.6°C), set in Greensburg on July 28, 1930, while the lowest recorded temperature is -37°F (-38.3°C), set in Shelbyville on January 19, 1994.

The best time to visit Kentucky

The best time to visit Kentucky is in the fall season from mid-September to mid-November when the conditions are pleasant after the end of the hot summer. The autumn is the driest season of the year with sunny days amid low humidity. The days are in the 50°F (10°C) to 83°F (28.3°C) zone, while the nights are mild in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) range. Storm activity is at a low, and the landscape is colorful during the autumn. The spring season has mild temperatures, while early summer is warm, but significant rainfall and thunderstorms make the period dicey for a vacation.

The worst time to visit Kentucky

The worst time to visit Kentucky is in the winter from December to February when the conditions are cold. Although low temperatures rarely drop below 0°F (-17.8°C), strong winds exacerbate the cold, and freezing nights occur across the state. Snowfall is light in the south compared to the north and does not accumulate on the ground for long periods. Polar air masses occasionally reach the northern portions and travel all the way to the south. Snowstorms are occasional in Kentucky, but even moderate amounts of snowfall stall everyday life due to lack of snow removal measures.

Weather hazards

Kentucky is vulnerable to tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, and droughts in spring and summer. The later part of the spring season is particularly prone to floods due to heavy rainfall and thawing of snow. Flash floods occur regularly, with the one on August 4, 2009, claiming 36 lives and devastating property. Ten tornadoes occur on average in the year, while thunderstorms number from forty to fifty-five. Wind speeds often exceed 100mph (160.9km/h) during severe storms and cause loss to life and property. Thunderstorms occur routinely during the spring and summer, while ice storms are not rare in the winter.

Weather in Januar

January is the peak of the winter in Kentucky, with average low temperatures at the nadir between 23°F (-5°C) to 28°F (-2.2°C). The days are mild to cold in the average range of 39°F (3.9°C) to 46.9°F (8.3°C) and receive weak sunshine of 4 hours.

Weather in Februar

February is cold in the winter season of Kentucky yet sees a fair amount of sunshine. The average temperatures are between a cold 23°F (-5°C) during the night to a warm 52°F (11.1°C) in the day. Ashland in the east is cold between 24.1°F (-4.4°C) to 44.1°F (6.7°C) compared to Louisville in the north, between 30°F (-1.1°C) to 48°F (8.9°C). February snowfall is a moderate 4" (102mm) to 5" (127mm), with the southern portion of the state receiving only a light amount.

Weather in April

April is a warm and wet month in Kentucky, with the advance of the spring season. The prairie shows definite signs of greenery with the absence of snow from the landscape and begins the growing season. The average high temperatures are in the comfortable 66°F (18.9°C) to 72°F (22.2°C) range, while the nights are above freezing in the 39°F (3.9°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) range. The precipitation is on the rise and registers between 4" (102mm) to 5" (127mm), while snowfall is on the decline. Weather in April »

Weather in Jun

June starts the hot summer season in Kentucky as the sun assumes command of the skies. The heat and humidity increase steadily as the longest days of the year receive intense sunshine for 9 hours. The average high temperatures are in the 82°F (27.8°C) to 89.1°F (31.7°C) zone, while the average low temperatures are between 57.9°F (14.4°C) to 66°F (18.9°C).

Weather in Jul

July is usually the hottest month of the year in Kentucky, with the average high temperatures between 84.9°F (29.4°C) to 91.9°F (33.3°C). Nights are in the warm range of 62.1°F (16.7°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) but significantly less humid than the days.
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