Did You Know Kentucky Once Got Up to Six Inches of Snow…in Late May?
Let me take you back for a moment. (Yeah, I know it's not Throwback Thursday, but Thursday will just have to get over it.)
KENTUCKY SNOW IN MAY IN MY LIFETIME
It was Saturday, May 6th, 1989, the day of the 115th Kentucky Derby, and sleet began to fall from the sky. I'd always remembered it as snow, but the National Weather Service recorded sleet on that day, and nobody's going to argue with them about the weather. So sleet it is. Or was. And it didn't seem to have too much of a detrimental effect on the race that day--a race won by Sunday Silence. From this video, it looks like all the sleet had passed by the star of the race.
Anyway, SLEET on May 6th. No, it never dropped below freezing. In fact, it never got CLOSE to 32 degrees, so the frozen precipitation was toast by the time it hit the ground. It is the only time in my life I remember any such precip falling in May.
But that's because I wasn't around in 1894.
A LOT MORE KENTUCKY SNOW IN MAY...NOT IN MY LIFETIME
On May 20th of that year, Kentuckians got a nasty surprise--I mean, even if you LOVE snow, you probably don't want to see it 12 days before June--when a blast of Canadian air swooped through the Commonwealth dumping six inches of snow on Lexington, Harrodsburg, and Mount Sterling. Cities such as Shelbyville, Richmond, and Louisville got lesser amounts.
HOW ALL THAT SNOW HAPPENED IN LATE MAY
From the National Weather Service's description, it looks like a case of "the perfect storm." Low pressure moved up the East Coast and pushed a great deal of Atlantic moisture over the Appalachians to create a bit of winter in mid-spring. It certainly doesn't sound like anything Kentuckians at the time ever wanted to see happen again.
"Snow was heavy – flattened all the wheat to the ground, breaking much of it."
"A remarkable snowstorm. Peach trees as well as many other kinds – vegetables, grains are bent to the ground. Great destruction to fruit and shade trees as well as rye wheat."
"There was probably more snow fell on the 20th than four inches yet it melted so fast next to the ground."
I guess it did melt pretty fast; having snow like that two months into spring MUST have meant the ground was plenty warm enough.
Fortunately, nothing like that is in the forecast in the near term, even if it is March. And spring is right around the corner.
After this topsy-turvy winter, I am more than ready.