Recent Heat Wave across East Kentucky Rivals Historic Heat Waves of the 1930s Dust Bowl Era

A heat wave for the record books occurred across the Bluegrass State between June 28th and July 1st, 2012.  The intensity of the heat rivaled the historic heat waves of the 1930s Dust Bowl. 

After beginning the heat wave on Thursday June 28th, with most locations reaching near 100ºF, the mercury soared past 100 degrees across most of east Kentucky on Friday June 29th establishing new all-time record highs at both the National Weather Service in Jackson and at the London-Corbin Airport and several other locations (see table below).  At Jackson, the temperature climbed to 104ºF on the 29th of June, establishing a new all-time record high for the station.  The previous all-time record high at Jackson was 101ºF set last on August 18th, 1988.  Climate records at NWS Jackson date back to 1981.  At the London-Corbin Airport, where records began in 1954, the temperature climbed to 105ºF, also establishing a new all-time record high for the station.  The previous all-time record high at London was 102ºF set on August 16th, 2007.  Climate records at the London-Corbin Airport date back to 1954.

Friday's record heat was punctuated by severe thunderstorms across parts of northeast Kentucky, and damaging gust front winds for many locations.  Click here for more information on the June 29th Derecho and Gust Front.

For eastern Kentucky, many stations climbed to or exceeded 100ºF degrees for 4 straight days.  Such a streak of heat hasn't happened since the 1930s.  Below are maps of the observed high temperatures during the heat wave across east Kentucky and the entire state.  Click on each graphic to enlarge the image...

Highs Thursday June 28th Highs Friday June 29th  Highs Saturday June 30th Highs Sunday July 1st
 

Highs Thursday June 28th
Highs Friday June 29th

Highs Saturday June 30th

Highs Sunday July 1st
 

The following table shows the record highs for June, July, and August for several ASOS and Cooperative Observing Stations in eastern Kentucky. Items in red are new records established this year.  Note that Cooperative Observing Stations report to the National Weather Service each morning, reporting their high temperature for the previous 24 hours. Several stations not only established new record highs for the month of June, but all time record highs as well.

Location Record High for June Year(s) for June Record Record High for July Year(s) for July Record Record High for August Year(s) for August Record Period of Record
Barbourville  106 (all time record) 2012 105 2012 102 1983, 1954 1950-2012
Baxter 103 (all time record) 2012 101 2012 101 1983 1952-2012
Farmers 104 1936 105 1999, 1954,1936, 1930 106 1936 1904-2012
Jackson 104 (all time record) 2012 101 1988 101 1988 1981-2012
London 105 (all time record) 2012 101 2012,1999, 1988 102 2007 1954-2012
Middlesboro 108* 2012* 112 1930 109 1925 1892-2009
Monticello 105 (all time record) 2012 104 2012 103 1988 1956-2012
Mount Sterling 104 2012 109 1930 105 1936 1892-2012
Mount Vernon 101 2012 102 1980 102 1983 1956-2012
Somerset 103 2012 103 2012, 1952 104 2007 1950-2012
West Liberty 107 1994 103 1999, 1988, 1952 103 1953 1905-1908, 1948-2012
Williamsburg 106 2012 107 1934 108 1936 1892-2012

 * This is an unofficial temperature from the Middlesboro AWOS. The official cooperative weather observational record for Middlesboro ended in 2009. The Middlesboro AWOS reached 108 degrees on June 29, 2012, and the Yellow Creek RAWS station at Cumberland Gap National Park just outside Middlesboro reached 106 degrees. The official record high for June for Middlesboro (based on cooperative weather observations) continues to be 102 degrees from 1933.

Of special note are temperature records broken from the decade of the 1930s. During the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s Kentucky experienced it's greatest heat waves on record. Stations which have records going back to the 1930s include Williamsburg (this includes a station move in 2004), Middlesboro, Mount Sterling, and Farmers.

Williamsburg's record of 106 degrees from June 29 broke the old June monthly record of 105 degrees set in 1936. Mount Sterling's high temperature of 104 from June 29 broke the June monthly record of 103 set in 1934. Farmers reached 103 degrees on June 29, just missing their June record high of 104 degrees set in 1936.



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