Most of Kentucky is officially under a Level 1 drought status. The Office of the State Climatologist and the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet issued the declaration Thursday for 117 counties.
Level 1 indicates moderate to severe drought conditions have developed, mainly affecting soil moisture and vegetation. An increased risk of wildfires and water supply shortage is likely if drought conditions continue.
According to a news release, public water supplies are not affected, however the public may be asked to conserve water should the drought persist. Local officials are encouraged to familiarize themselves with water shortage response plans.
Kentucky has had 40% to 75% of normal precipitation over the past 90 days, with the driest conditions in the southeastern part of the state where wildfires have consumed more than 29,000 acres. As of Wednesday, 27 fires are being managed and more than 60 counties have issued burn bans.
Cattle producers have already moved to hay for feed due to dry pastures, however hay is in a limited supply due to wet spring and summer seasons. Crops may struggle to germinate due to conditions, which increases the risk of soil erosion over the winter.
No significant rain is in the forecast for next week.
The Kentucky Division of water is continuing to monitor systems and will notify the public if changes lead to water shortages.