Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rainfall totals and drought update

Rain continues to move from west to east across Kansas this morning. Throughout the week, the computer models have been showing the heaviest of the rain would end up across southwest Kansas, and that's exactly where it is this morning. Some areas that have struggled to get any rain the last few years continue to get moisture this year, and what a welcome change. Here are the rainfall totals through 7 a.m. this morning:
Garden City: 1.73"
Dodge City: 0.80"
Smith Center: 0.69"
Liberal: 0.61"
Pratt: 0.42"
Elkhart: 0.36"
Goodland: 0.26"
Medicine Lodge: 0.22"

July 22nd drought monitor
Just a quick update on the drought here in Kansas. It does continue even after all of the rainfall we had in June. The moisture hasn't been quite as generous in July, and some areas now are falling a little behind for the year. But looking into August, the weather pattern looks like it will stay active, providing us with more opportunities for rain and storms. It is nice to see that there are no longer any "exceptional" drought areas covering Kansas, and even in places where we still have the severe drought classification, those areas have been getting moisture. 

Warming trend into the weekend
The forecast for Thursday and into the weekend looks dry and warmer. I think we've all can agree, temperatures could be much, much hotter heading into August, but for now, low 90s is about all the warmer we think it will get. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trading tornadoes for earthquakes

Are the earthquakes we are feeling here in Kansas outpacing the tornadoes? It's starting to feel like that after a relatively quiet storm season that I touched on yesterday. I think the earthquake Monday evening just before the start of our 10 p.m. broadcast caught us all off guard. But then again, there isn't a good way of knowing when those kinds of things are going to happen anyway. What's always amazing to me is how fast you can go from a routine evening around the TV station to crazy in just a matter of a few minutes. No doubt, when the earth starts shaking below you, it's going to get your attention. The phones were ringing off the hook for a good 30 minutes.

Map showing the epicenter of the quake Monday night and how far away people could feel it.
The Richter scale (used to measure the magnitude of the quake) is not a liner scale. For every jump in whole number (i.e. 3.0 to 4.0), it's 10 times the energy released from the quake. The one in Oklahoma last night was 4.3 and had a depth of just over 4 miles and could be felt up in some parts of central Kansas. It's still considered a light earthquake, and it isn't until you get up around 5 or stronger that you start getting concerned for possible damage.

Forecast for rainfall the next few days
Rain chances are increasing for the next couple of days. You can't complain about moisture in the middle of summer, and some of the heaviest will be in places that only had about 5-10 inches of rain last year altogether. The heavy rainfall will begin in southwest Kansas tonight and continue for much of the day tomorrow. Some places will see over 2 inches, and as the map shows, areas along the Oklahoma state line will have the best chance of getting some fairly significant moisture. If you are farther north, the amounts will drop off quickly. The storm system will exit the area Thursday, leaving us with dry and warmer weather for the end of the week.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Where did the severe weather go this year?

Tornado watch summary for 2014
This has been a relatively quiet severe weather season in Kansas. We've had a few tornadoes, including the EF-2 tornado that hit Baxter Springs. But just look at the tornado watch summary from Storm Prediction Center out of Oklahoma. There are some parts of the state that haven't been in a single tornado watch this year. In fact, North Carolina has had more tornado watches this season than Kansas. That's very unusual, but we're not complaining. The closest "hot spots" for tornadoes this year ended up being eastern Nebraska and Iowa. Thinking back on the last couple of seasons and most of the active weather has been east of Kansas. Some of that is largely due to the ongoing drought we've had in our area.

Best chance for statewide rain is Wednesday.
The temperatures will be staying below normal for the upcoming week. It's such a nice treat isn't it? I know some of you reading the blog this morning love hot weather and we still have a solid month coming up where we know it can get hot (highs in the 90s and 100s) The long range computer models through August 10th do not develop the huge, high pressure dome over Kansas or the central Plains. We may actually get through the next month with few or perhaps no 100 degree days. What would you say about that? Most of the state averages close to a dozen days where the high temperatures hit triple digits, but I think we will come in under that number when the summer is over. Now let's just hope the rains keep coming in a timely manner because we will want the moisture heading into fall.

Rainfall prediction from today - Thursday (July 31)
The best chances for moisture the next few days will be in southwest Kansas. Everyone else will have a chance on Wednesday, but it's going to be somewhat hit and miss. Have a great week and enjoy the cool down.

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