CraneStation / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

A group of Vanderbilt University environmental engineers have developed a new tool for identifying drought severity over smaller areas, allowing farmers and emergency officials to better mitigate the effects.

Ph.D candidate at the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment (VIEE) and 2006 Murray State University alum Leslie Duncan was one of the developers of the new drought index calculator.  

Kentucky Food Prices Increase Following Last Summer’s Drought

Apr 29, 2013

Average retail food prices in Kentucky supermarkets increased a little over half a percent during the first quarter of this year according to the latest Market Basket survey from the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

Dan Smaldone, the Bureau’s director of public relations, said the Farm Bureau totaled the cost of forty basic grocery items and the price came to $116.27. He says that’s 74 cents more than the previous quarter.

From NPR: Last year, drought devastated many corn farmers, so you think they’d welcome all the spring rain. But it’s putting them behind schedule because they can’t plant in soaked fields.


Small businesses and agriculture operatives have less than a month left to apply for federal economic injury disaster loans as result of this summer’s drought. The deadline for the Small Business Administration assistance is March 12.  Loans through the program can be up to $2 million with interest rates as low as four percent for eligible small businesses and three percent for nonprofits.

NOAA, wikipedia.org

This weekend’s rainfall has briefly alleviated dropping water levels on the Mississippi River, but it didn't put a dent in persisting drought conditions in the area. National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Smith says most places in western Kentucky got 4 to 5 inches but they are still up to 20 inches below average rainfall. The Mississippi River levels are between 12 and 13 feet but Smith expects those levels to drop back to 5 feet in just a few weeks.


Although western Kentucky has already seen its first snow storm of the season, experts say much more will have to fall to ease farmers’ pain from the past summer’s drought. The Dec. 26 snow storm dropped up to 7 inches of snow in Kentucky and up to a foot in some places in Illinois. But climatologists say it would take at least 8 feet of snow to return the soil to its pre-drought condition in time for spring planting. The average snowfall for Paducah is 10 inches, so the large amount of snowfall isn’t likely to happen.

Kelly Martin, Wikimedia Commons

A top Army Corps of Engineers official says an updated forecast means it’s unlikely the lower Mississippi River will close to shipping. Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy tells interested state lawmakers the agency won't scale back the amount of Missouri River water it began withholding last month from the Mississippi. Lawmakers and the barge industry had sought the extra water to prevent a shipping crisis.

Despite experiencing one of the worse droughts in U.S. history, agriculture economists in Kentucky are projecting record cash receipts for the state’s farmers.

During their annual outlook during the Kentucky Farm Bureau conference, economists from the University of Kentucky say they think Kentucky will break the $5-billion barrier in revenues this year.

Corps of Engineers Moves Ahead with Missouri River Cutoff

Nov 23, 2012

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun reducing the flow from a Missouri River reservoir, a move expected to worsen low water conditions on the Mississippi River and potentially halt barge traffic at St. Louis within weeks.

Christmas Trees Another Crop Victim of Summer Drought

Nov 21, 2012

For some, a natural Christmas tree is the only way to go for the holidays.

The evergreen trees sold during the Christmas season take up to seven years to reach maturity. During that growing season, weather and animals are the tree farmer’s biggest enemies. This year the region’s industry was another victim of the 2012 drought.