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Kentucky’s Little Winters

Even as we go farther into spring we are not exempted from occasional cold snaps that make it feel like we’ve been blasted back to winter. All it takes is one cold front and temperatures drop from the 70s, even the 80s, to the 50s. We are about to take another ride on Kentucky’s famous weather roller coaster.

Before we were able to get the forecast at our finger tips, people would watch the weather closely for signs. That’s how we could all those weather lores like “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” or a halo around the moon means rain is coming soon. Paying attention to all the little things in nature helped our ancestors know what to expect and when to play certain crops.

There are five little winter climate folk lores, typically coming about every two weeks. Each “winter” recognizes the return of continental polar air masses, at varying degrees of severity, that make it feel like winter again. The different names are related to what’s in bloom. For example, a cold snap that hits during early April is known as “redbud winter.”  We are bracing for a “dogwood winter” over the coming days.

After an unseasonably chilly start, temperatures have been warming nicely so far this week. This warming trend will peak Thursday with highs in the neighborhood of 80 degrees! But things are about to change as a strong cold front continues pressing south. A round of rain and storms late Thursday and Friday will eventually usher in the blast of winter. During this “dogwood winter” our high temperatures will nose-dive some 20 to 25 degrees. We’ll wake up in the 30s and end up only in the mid 50s on Saturday.

A battle between warm and cold air masses is not uncommon during April. As the jet stream, or the driver of the weather, oscillates north and south. Usually by this time of year the warm air is winning out the battle. But occasionally the pattern gets “troughy.” A trough of low pressure can dig in, allowing colder air to spill southward.

Fortunately for us the chill during this dogwood winter will be brief. Easter egg hunts on Saturday will be chilly and damp, but temperatures should bounce back into the 70s on Easter Sunday.

Jill Szwed

Jill Szwed

Jill Szwed is the Weekend Evening and Afternoon Meteorologist at LEX 18.
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