National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

...A Historic December to Remember...

The month started off very warm, with readings in the 70s in some spots on the 2nd and 3rd of the month. It was the beginning of what would prove to be one of the warmest Decembers we've ever seen in southern Indiana and central Kentucky. Only five to seven days of the month were colder than normal, depending on the location.

Just after 4am on the 6th a couple of small tornadoes spun up northeast of Frankfort and produced EF-1 damage. Two injuries occurred when one of the tornadoes hit a mobile home park in Stamping Ground. Frankfort had its wettest December 6 on record.

On the evening of the 10th a thunderstorm developed over northeast Arkansas. This storm would grow into a massive supercell that would travel all the way from Arkansas to Ohio by the early morning hours of the 11th, producing several damaging long track tornadoes. An EF-4 twister tore a 165.7 mile path of destruction across western Kentucky, devastating the city of Mayfield. In central Kentucky, no fewer than 18 tornadoes touched down as additional storms formed. A high-end EF-3 in Bowling Green took the lives of 17 residents as the city suffered from a direct hit by the storm along its nearly 30 mile path. One more fatality occurred in Taylor County when an EF-3 tornado severely damaged homes north of Campbellsville. Never before had we seen a tornado outbreak anything like this in December. In addition to the tornadoes, thunderstorms dumped heavy rain and repeatedly moved over the same areas, resulting in flash flooding.  

Fortunately for the residents of central Kentucky, not to mention meteorologists, the weather turned quiet for several days after the tornado outbreak. After a brief spell of colder weather with morning lows in the 20s, warm weather surged back into the region by Christmas Eve. Temperatures soared into the 70s on the 25th, giving us our warmest Christmas on record. Louisville came within a degree of the warmest temperature ever recorded in December; Bowling Green was just two degrees away. The warm weather continued through the rest of the month.

  Average Temperature Departure from Normal Precipitation Departure from Normal Snow Departure from Normal
Bowling Green 50.8° +10.3° 3.65" -0.70" 0  
Frankfort 47.4° +9.3° 4.51" +0.74"    
Lexington 46.4° +8.6° 4.59" +0.39" T -1.9"
Louisville Ali 49.9° +10.3° 3.76" -0.37" 0 -2.2"
Louisville Bowman 48.5° +9.7° 3.81" -0.07    

 

Records

5th: High of 72° in Bowling Green
6th: Rainfall of 1.47" at Frankfort
11th: Rainfall of 1.13" at Frankfort
25th: High of 76° in Bowling Green, high of 72° in Frankfort, warm low of 53° in Frankfort, high of 70° in Lexington, high of 75° in Louisville
27th: High of 73° in Frankfort, high of 74° in Louisville
28th: High of 72° in Bowling Green, high of 69° in Frankfort, high of 67° in Lexington, high of 70° in Louisville

Warmest December on record in Bowling Green, 2nd warmest December on record in Frankfort, 3rd warmest December on record in Lexington and Louisville

EF-3 tornado damage in Taylor County, KY December 11, 2021

EF-3 tornado damage in Taylor County on the 11th as seen by an NWS drone during the damage survey.