Monday, September 26, 2011


We don't see these around Kansas (at least in this form), mainly because we don't have big bodies of water here (El Dorado Lake doesn't count), but they did make for a spectacular show near Chicago over the weekend. A violent rotating column of air in contact with the ground is a tornado, but when it's over water, that's where we get waterspouts. They can move inland and become tornadoes, making them extremely dangerous. But when they develop over water, they only pose a threat to boats and a few swimmers. There were no reports of signifcant damage, but because they are rare over Lake Michigan, it created quite a stir for residents along the water. Only 13 waterspouts have been documented over Lake Michigan since 2000, and this weekend there were at least 6 different ones reported.

No waterspouts in our forecast (and not much water either). The pattern will continue to be dry for several more days. Our next chance for rain may not be until October 5th or 6th, and even then, that may only be a slight chance. The temperatures have been really nice lately, but we need rain in a bad way.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Foliage

The fall color in Kansas will most likely not be as good as some years, due to the lack of rainfall. Some of the best fall foliage in our area will likely be in northern Kansas where the rainfall has been a little heavier. This map shows what time of the year certain areas reach their peak fall color, with cooler climates typically reaching the peak earlier in the season.

Autumn begins on Friday at 4:05 a.m. That's when the sun will be directly overhead at the equator, so we'll actually have an equal amount of daylight and nighttime (equinox = equal day and equal night). We are already starting to see changes going on in the atmosphere, with colder air developing in the Northern Provinces of Canada.

September is going to close on a dry note, which shouldn't be a surprise with the way things have been going. We can always hope October brings more moisture to our area, but it's not one of our wetter months here in Kansas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


As I mentioned in my last blog entry, the drought in Texas has been so severe that much of the vegetation has dried out and now easily catches fire from a spark or a cigarette that has been tossed out the window. This picture taken from the International Space Station shows some of the fires that have been ongoing in Texas and for quite some time. The weather pattern from September 14-20 looks unsettled and there will be chances for rain and storms. Some of the rain will make it into north Texas, but only time will tell exactly how far south the moisture will go. The jet stream (winds in the upper atmosphere) get much stronger going into the autumn season. I'm so hopeful this energetic jet stream delivers stronger storm systems to our area to increase our chances for moisture.

Millie and I continue to be busy with the Kansas State Fair. If you are in Hutch on Thursday or Friday, be sure to come by the KWCH booth and say hello.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Drought Update

The recent change in the temperatures has been so nice and we don't hear many complaints in the weather office. But what hasn't changed is the drought situation across the central and southern Plains. The dry pattern has been relentless now for at least a year, and it is not likely to change any time soon. Almost all of Texas is in an exceptional drought classification, with other areas in a severe drought. The exceptional drought stretches across Oklahoma and into southern Kansas, with rainfall deficits running 5-15 inches below normal. Dodge City has had less than 5 inches of rain this year, so the need for rain is extreme.

We've had several people ask what our upcoming winter season will be like, but we don't have any idea yet. The La Nina phenomenon that helped establish this drought last fall, weakened this summer, but forecast models show it could return for a part of the winter. La Nina is the cooler-than-average water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. Although it won't be as strong as it was last winter, the La Nina phenomenon is still having some influence on the weather pattern, helping to keep our area dry.

September is going to stay dry for a while and we may not be getting any moisture until the second half of the month. September (on average) is the 5th wettest month for Wichita with just over 3 inches of rain.

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