We don’t get many white Christmases around South-Central Kentucky but the year of 2004 was a big exception but instead of a beautiful snowy scene it caused a huge meteorological headache for the entire region. A winter storm is bad enough in the middle of winter but during the biggest shopping and traveling time of the year and you have a recipe for trouble.
It all started on December 22, 2004 as a strong trough in the mid-levels of the atmosphere allowed cold temperatures from Canada to filter into the region.
Combine that with a surface low over the gulf states that allowed moisture to advect northward into our region and the stage is set for a huge and very impactful winter storm across the Ohio Valley.
Most of the precipitation from this winter storm fell on December 22, dropping incredible amounts of snow across southern portions of Indiana and river-adjacent areas of northern Kentucky, while areas to the east saw a sharp drop-off in snow but more in the way ice accumulations via freezing rain.
Where temperatures were colder saw more in the way of snow, for instance areas west of Madison, Indiana saw upwards of 30″ of snow! Temperatures were warmer this far south, cutting into snow totals in favor of freezing rain. This freezing rain resulted in heavier ice accumulation that resulted in trees falling, property damage and widespread power outages.
According to NWS Louisville, in our area Ohio County received 8 inches of snow and Grayson County was socked with 6 inches combined of snow and sleet. Naturally after so much winter weather, temperatures plummeted across the region. By Christmas morning, temperatures in southern Indiana were below zero. Single digits were present through most of western and northern Kentucky, south central Kentucky was in the lower to mid-teens.
Official Christmas morning low temperatures showed just 9ºF for Bowling Green proper, Rochester dropped to -3ºF and Woodbury all the way down to 4ºF. Surprisingly, this wasn’t a record low for Bowling Green, which dropped to a bone-chilling -7ºF on Christmas Day 1983.
Just remember, when you ask for a white Christmas, sometimes you may get a bit more than you bargained for. Luckily for those who don’t like the white stuff, temperatures will be well above freezing this year, so put away those snow shovels and grab those grilling tongs as temps look to approach 70ºF for Santa’s big day.