Arctic cold breaks November records

Tricia Neal photo

Somerset Cemetery is covered with the season's first snowfall as Arctic air moved across the Lake Cumberland area Monday night. Bitter cold broke several early November temperature records.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this coming winter will be warmer than average. Also, the Old Farmer's Almanac says the winter will be warmer and wetter than normal.

On the other hand, hornets' nests are 20-40 feet off the ground, meaning snow will drift high along fencerows. Foggy mornings in August fortell 11 rabbit-tracking snows.

To back up folklore's outlook, fur on woolly worms backs is black, meaning the winter will be cold. A few woolly worms crawling near a moonshine still are faded yellow and white by the smell of mash. What this means only sipping mind-altering nectar from a fruit jar will tell.

To all of this confusion about the weather, Pulaski countians say "B-r-r-r-r-r-r! Baby It's Cold Ouiside. What happened to global warming?"

A pool of Arctic air dove southward Monday, crossing the Lake Cumberland Area before midnight, changing rain to snow and shoving thermometers to record lows in many places. It was in the springlike 60s Monday. As the cold settled in, temperatures dropped through the 30s and into the 20s by daybreak Tuesday. Most of Pulaski County picked up less than an inch of snow, but places to our east, west and north got considerably more.

Pete Geogerian, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Jackson, said climatological records are not kept for Somerset at the Jackson Weather Service Office, but "I have no doubt daylight highs in the low to mid-20 Tuesday were a record minimum high for mid-November." The skift of snow that fell Monday night didn't melt and remains on the ground ahead of warming temperatures expected Wednesday.

The sharp temperature drop may have been another record. Temperatures at dusk Monday were in the 60s. Thermometers were in the 20s early Tuesday, a drop of 35 to 40 degrees.

Low temperatures in Pulaski County ranged from 14 to 17 degrees Wednesday morning, tying a record low of 14 set on the same day in 1986. It probably would have gotten colder but clouds lingered through much of the night. Clouds act as a blanket, keeping the Earth from losing heat by radiation.

The current Arctic cold is not record cold for November, but for current dates. Geogerian talked about the snowstorm Thanksgiving weekend 1950. The precursor to the storm was the passage of an arctic cold front late on the 23rd into the 24th. The front passed through eastern Kentucky around midnight and the change in airmass was dramatic. Temperatures plunged from the 40s and 50s just ahead of the front to the teens just behind it. A thin but heavy band of snow accompanied the dramatic temperature drop behind the front with as much as 7 inches falling across southeast Kentucky on the morning of the 24th.

Temperatures across eastern Kentucky by the morning of November 25, 1950 were in the single digits and teens, and still dropping.

That snowstorm was late in November. The earliest heavy snowstorm in memory fell November 2-3, 1966. November 2, 1966 was a Monday. It was cold and rainy with temperatures in the 30s. As night settled in and rain continued, big drops of snow mixed with the precipitation. By morning, snow in Somerset was 7 inches deep. Parts of Pulaski County were covered in 10 inches of snow. The farther west, the more snow. Glasgow was buried under 15 inches. Campbellsville had 14 inches. Eight inches piled up at Bowling Green and Louisville. Fort Knox measured 13 inches. Those snow totals were on November 3, 1966.

Depressingly, as you brace the current November cold, is the fact, by the calendar, winter doesn't begin until December 21, more than a month from now. This is still autumn, but these are cold, (sometimes gray) November days.

Recommended for you