Fact Sheet - Record Low Temperature in Kentucky
Glen Conner
State Climatologist Emeritus for Kentucky
 
Cold spells may have been more memorable than hot ones to early settlers who were less well prepared than modern Kentuckians. Historians record the winter of 1779-1780 as the coldest known to that date. Although records of temperatures aren't available for that winter, the severity is indicated at Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where snow continued on the ground from mid November to mid February. For ten days in December 1796, history records that the Ohio River was frozen over to a thickness of nine inches.

January 1963 produced record breaking cold as an Arctic air mass settled over the entire Commonwealth. Local blizzard conditions on 23 January brought four to six inches of snow. Louisville and Lexington broke their record low temperature that had stood for ninety years with -20°F and -21°F respectively. That morning's low was -34°F at Bonnieville in Hart County breaking the old Kentucky record of -33°F established by Sandy Hook in 1899. The new record lasted until the morning of 28 January 1963 when Cynthiana tied with another -34°F. This record stood for the next thirty-four years..

As 1930 is to heat waves, 1994 is now to frigid spells. In January, a blizzard coated the landscape with about an inch of ice and topped it with 6-26 inches of snow. Mason County had the heaviest snow accumulation. All state, interstate, and federal highways were closed for two days. Behind the blizzard came the intrusion of arctic air. This one brought frigid weather to all of Kentucky. The morning of 19 January 1994 saw -31°F at Grayson, -32°F at Somerset, -33°F at Cynthiana, a record breaking -35°F at Gray Hawk, and a record smashing -37°F at Shelbyville. One hopes that this record will last a long time.
 
Kentucky Record Minimum Temperatures
 
Record Low
Location
Day
Year
Data Source
Month and Day Indicated
January
-37°F
Shelbyville
19
1994
Climatological Data, Kentucky
February
-32°F
Princeton
2
1951
Climatological Data, Kentucky
March
-14°F
Bonnieville
6
1960
Climatological Data, Kentucky
April
10°F
Millersburg
2
1857
Climatological Data, Kentucky
1854-1859, Senate 36th Congress
May
20°F
Falmouth
10
1966
Climatological Data, Kentucky
June
29°F
Cumberland
1
1966
Climatological Data, Kentucky
July
34°F
Ashland
1
1988
Climatological Data, Kentucky
August
36°F
Clermont
31
1946
Climatological Data, Kentucky
September
24°F
Farmers
26
1928
Climatological Data, Kentucky
October
10°F
Dewey Dam
27
1962
Climatological Data, Kentucky
November
-9°F
Shelbyville
30
1929
Climatological Data, Kentucky
December
-24°F
Farmers
24
1989
Climatological Data, Kentucky