Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Rain lessens drought from extreme to severe




The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — A weekend's rain lifted Kentucky out of extreme drought, but it's not over yet.

        The Palmer Drought Severity Index, released Monday night, shows Lexington and the Bluegrass improving from extreme to severe drought conditions, and eastern Kentucky improving from severe to moderate.

        That's the first time in weeks that no region of the state has been in the extreme category on the index.

        But the numbers show that the Bluegrass still needs 9 inches of rain above normal to end the drought.

        Eastern Kentucky needs nearly 7 inches.

        In Lexington, sprinklers can be used again, thanks to the rain. But the only thing left to sprinkle may be grass seed.

        “We're right at the end of the time to do any seeding,” said A.J. Powell, a University of Kentucky agronomist. “If you're going to do it, do it this weekend.”

        Kentucky-American Water Co. customers are still on an odd-even outdoor watering schedule with a total ban on Mondays.

        Previously taboo practices such as car washing now are allowed. So is filling swimming pools, but October is not exactly swimsuit month.

        The rollback is similar to one that occurred from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6, and could be as short-lived.

        “We're in good shape for a good, solid week,” said Barbara Brown, a Kentucky-American spokeswoman. “It was a nice, soaking rain.”

        Lexington had 1.6 inches of rain Saturday and Sunday at Blue Grass Airport, almost all of it on Saturday, said Vern Beaver, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville.

        Louisville got 2.8 inches. Western Kentucky got more, eastern Kentucky got less, Mr. Beaver said. Jackson and London reported less than an inch over the weekend.

        But the widespread rain had a big effect on Lexington's water supply.

        Ms. Brown said Kentucky-American on Monday was taking less than 10 percent of the Kentucky River's flow. The previous Monday, it was 60 percent.

        Unless more rain falls this week, the increased flow likely will be temporary, Ms. Brown said.

        Other than a small chance of rain today, the week is expected to be dry across Kentucky, Mr. Beaver said.

       



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