“Winter” 2016-17: We Hardly Knew Ye

And when I say hardly, I mean hardly. When you think of winter you think of something like…this:

Snow hit Springfield, but the one in Kentucky didn’t get anywhere near this much. (Giphy)

But for the most part, no. Winter looked nothing like that. We had a couple of snow “events” in the past 3 months but nothing worth writing home about. This should give you an effective summary of our winter:

This is the “Winter Events” page on NWS Louisville’s website. Yes, that’s a tumbleweed. (NWS Louisville)

But since this is a weather blog, I’m going to break down this past meteorological winter month-by-month. Trust me, it won’t be that…cool.

h/t giphy.com


December started off average enough, but of course, we’re not looking for extremely cold temperatures to start off December. The first month of winter was more like a rollercoaster that only gets more extreme as we rounded out 2016.

The Simpsons called it long ago. (Giphy/Frinkiac)

The back half of the month was just straight up insane. Rain had been on the increase throughout the month and temperatures had started to warm up. Then came December 17. Pierce Larkin wrote a great post recapping that event, but I’ll summarize here: Friday the 16th started in the lower 20s, a warm front surged temperatures to near 70º by Saturday afternoon, by which time a cold front touched off severe thunderstorms that rolled through the region. By Sunday morning, temperatures had dropped upwards of 40º and caused problems with freezing rain. It was simply incredible.

24-hour temperature graph from one of the Warren County mesonet sites from Dec. 17-18, 2016. (Kentucky Mesonet)

Mother Nature refused to get her faulty thermostat fixed because by the 21st, a bit of snow managed to coat parts of the region and temperatures plunged into the teens. Five days later all four NWS Louisville climate sites set record highs (76º at Louisville on Dec. 26 is their all-time warmest temperature in December), and three (the exception being Bowling Green) also set daily warm record lows. Bowling Green even set a record high temperature on the day before. The high on BG on Christmas Day was 72º.

Alright, who asked Santa for a flamethrower? (Giphy)

The rollercoaster continued, well, coasting on into the new year.


Ah yes, the month was some snow of note. But of course, it didn’t last.

January 5th saw some snow cover over the region, sparking hope in snow-lovers everywhere that maybe we would have a winter after all. Amounts in our area ranged from a 1/2″ up to 1 1/2″ and caused a bit of inconvenience. Pierce Larkin wrote a great in-depth recap for this event as well.

It wasn’t to last.

By the middle of the month, warmth had settled in and seldom let the Ohio Valley escape it’s grip. Bowling Green logged it’s first 70º reading of the year just 12 days into 2017. Temperatures would climb into the 60s well into late month.

Kentucky snow-lovers after being teased with snow then having the carpet yanked from under them. (Giphy)

Surprisingly, even with warm temperatures in place, the area was spared any severe weather, however places to our south weren’t so lucky.

The southeast was hit with severe weather late in January. (Storm Prediction Center)

A rare January High Risk area was issued by the Storm Prediction Center on January 22 and more than 100 reports of severe weather were received, including several tornadoes. Turns out, that was a hint at what was to come for February.

Temperatures here meanwhile, averaged out to around 8.5º above normal, according to NWS Louisville , and it was the 7th warmest January on record. February was no better.


Buckle up. Let’s get this out of the way off the top: Bowling Green officially got 0″ of snow. Like, Lexington and Louisville got a trace…Bowling Green got zip, zilch, nil, nada, not a thing. Officially anyway.

February was straight up toasty by winter standards. Our average temperature (when factoring in daily highs and lows and averaging them out) came in at 48.5º or 8.2º above normal. Good enough for the warmest February on record.

This gif is inaccurate. It implies we had snowmen to melt in the first place. (Giphy)

In fact, across the state, Lexington recorded it’s first February 80º temperature ever on February 24, which culminated an unprecedented week long warm streak. BG reached 76º on February 20 for a record high and set an all-time monthly record high on February 24 of 81º. Goodness.

Speaking of February 24, it kicked off the stormy side of February that reared it’s head late in the month. We escaped most of the severe weather on that Friday afternoon, it mostly stayed to the north and storms in south-central Kentucky stayed mostly non-severe. The next Tuesday was a different story.

Just know, Twister gifs mean I’m talking about storms. (Giphy)

What better why to end this meteorological winter with a severe weather outbreak? That’s exactly what we got on February 28, though the worst of the weather for our area missed the winter/spring cut-off by just 6 hours, with 2 tornadoes striking our neck of the woods just after 7:00am on March 1.

Tornado damage near Cemetery Rd. in Warren County from March 1. (NWS Louisville via Nick Williams)

This was a winter to forget about, especially if you enjoyed the winters of the past 3 years what with their snow, bitterly clod temperatures…and snow. As for spring, it looks warmer than normal and wetter than normal…so really no change from winter at all.