Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What's happened to the rain and La Nina watch

What we saw yesterday in Kansas was beyond crazy for October. It's one thing to have record high temperatures, but to have the last 100 degree reading ever for Kansas take place on October 17th is just flat out weird. And to go along with it, October 17th is even later than Las Vegas' last 100 degree temperature in October (that record is October 4th)

We are slipping back to fall weather now and even though we are looking at another big warm up next weekend, it's unlikely we will climb out of the 80s. Normal highs are now in the 60s, so we shouldn't be getting much above 80. Ridiculous Kansas weather sometimes.

What has happened to the rains in western Kansas? It was such a remarkable summer with steady rains and such wonderful moisture, but since September 1st, the faucet has been turned off. Look at these numbers:

  • Since September 1st
    • Dodge City: 0.40"
    • Garden City: 0.19"
    • Goodland: 2.53"
    • Wichita: 12.42"

Wichita and much of south central Kansas could go awhile longer without rain and be just fine. But we need some moisture in the west in order to give the newly planted wheat crop a boost. Unfortunately, as I mentioned last week here on the blog, chances for moisture between now and the end of the month are quite slim. Another high pressure ridge sets up for early next week, and that's not the news that western Kansas needs.

For those assuming that a wet summer means we are in for a wet winter... this latest trend toward drier should put those assumptions to rest. There's no way we can draw those conclusions based on what's happened so far this year. We are still studying the patterns and watching the changes before we can make any predictions into the winter season.

We are officially back on "La Nina Watch" as water temperatures near the Equator continue to cool. For awhile, it looked like we might be "neutral = no El Nino and no La Nina", but now it looks like water temperatures will be just cool enough to qualify. So if we end up with a weak La Nina, what does that mean for wintertime in Kansas? It's not an easy answer, but when we issue our winter forecast, I'll do some more explaining how it could play into the forecast. 

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