Kentucky Derby: Stormy weather to give way to sunshine, warmth next weekend

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
April 30, 2018, 12:52:27 PM EDT

While this year's Kentucky Derby is expected to turn out warmer than that of 2017, Churchill Downs may again experience stormy conditions.

For a six-day stretch spanning the Kentucky Derby in 2017, temperatures failed to exceed 70 F while over 2 inches of rain fell. This year, more favorable weather is anticipated for the finale of Kentucky Derby Week.

Several days of Kentucky Derby Week events are in store for those at Churchill Downs through midweek, all of which are expected to go on uninterrupted by the weather.

However, "after a rather warm and dry start to the week, the stormy weather expected across the Plains will shift into the Mississippi and Ohio Valley Thursday," said AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido.

Static Kentucky Derby

"With a cold front nearby Friday, expect the unsettled weather to continue for at least the first part of the day and perhaps into the nighttime," he warned.

Travelers in and around Louisville may face delays on Friday, when the approaching cold front will produce an uptick in cloud cover as well as showers and thunderstorms.

Any heavy thunderstorms could result in ponding on roadways and minor delays at area airports.

In addition, "localized downpours or gusty thunderstorms can lead to poor viewing conditions for spectators and create muddy conditions on the track and across the infield for the Longines Kentucky Oaks race on Friday," Vido said.

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Storms could stick around long enough to delay this historic Friday evening fillies race as well.

Depending on how quickly the front moves away at the end of the week, residents and tourists visiting Louisville may wake up to another damp and stormy day on Saturday.

However, "high pressure is favored to return to the region for Saturday, bringing more sunshine and drier weather in time for the major races," Vido said.

Should this scenario unfold, temperatures will likely peak at near-average levels in the mid- to upper 70s during the afternoon with increasing amounts of sunshine and lowering humidity making for pleasant weather conditions for the Old Forester Turf Classic and Kentucky Derby races.

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