Elkhorn Creek

With a water level of 2.1 feet, much of Elkhorn Creek's riverbed is exposed after a record-breaking September that saw only 0.08 of an inch of rain fell in Frankfort. (Chanda Veno | State Journal)


Despite receiving less than a tenth of an inch of rain in September, Frankfort still wasn’t able to break a 124-year record for the driest month on record — although September 2019 was a close second.

According to data compiled by the National Weather Service in Louisville, in September 1895 — the same year information began to be officially collected — the city received only a trace of rain, making it the all-time driest month on record.

However, this September’s rainfall, measured at 0.08 inches, ties with October 1963 as the second all-time driest month — 3.25 inches less than normal. Third place (0.13 of an inch) belongs to October 1924, followed closely by October 1938 in fourth place (0.14 of an inch).

September also notched a spot in the record books for being the second hottest on record with an average temperature of 75.3 degrees — a 7.7-degree departure from normal (67.6 degrees). In fact, Frankfort also set record high temperatures on three consecutive days late last week — Friday (94 degrees), Saturday (95 degrees) and Sunday (96 degrees) all being records for those dates. The capital city also marked a record low minimum temperature on Friday with 70 degrees.

Tuesday's high of 97 fell one degree shy of tying the record for that date set in 1953. On Wednesday, Frankfort's high of 96 easily bested the previous mark of 92 set in 1952.

Last week, Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells issued a no-burn order due to persistent dry conditions, which are expected to continue through Saturday. There's a good chance that the city will also exceed Thursday's record high of 94 set in 1953. The NWS predicts an afternoon high of 95.

Franklin County Fire Chief Kevin Hutcherson has asked residents to avoid any unnecessary burning. There is also an elevated wildland fire danger, the NWS reports.

The extremely dry conditions have affected local waterways. At only 3% of its normal flow, the Kentucky River level has fallen so low — 6.63 feet at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Frankfort lock — that many residents are complaining of a foul taste and odor in the tapwater.

The Frankfort Plant Board recently held a press conference to assure citizens that the water had been thoroughly tested and was safe to drink.

Elkhorn Creek, which now contains islands of dry spots and exposed riverbed, is also running low — 2.1 feet as of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Temperatures will become more seasonable Friday and Saturday with sunny skies and highs in the upper 70s and mid-80s, respectively. Precipitation may be on the way. The NWS predicts a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms from Saturday night through Monday. After a high near 80 on Sunday, high afternoon temps will dip to around 70 degrees on Monday and lows into the 40s Monday night.

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