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Friday, April 11, 2014

Wichita’s warm, dry January headed for the record book

By Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle

It’s been so warm in Wichita this January that only one day saw the high temperature stay below freezing.

It’s been so dry in Wichita this month that measurable precipitation fell on just one day — and that was merely 0.03 inches on Jan. 24.

There should be no surprise, then, that 2012 is poised to enter the record books in both categories.

Based on forecast highs and lows through today, Wichita’s anticipated average monthly temperature will be 37.9 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That’s 5.8 degrees above the normal average monthly temperature for January, which is 32.1 degrees. That would rank as the 10th-highest average temperature for January in Wichita since records began being kept in 1888.

This year will tie for the seventh-driest January on record with 1994, according to weather service data. Only 0.02 inches fell in 1911, 1923 and 1961. No precipitation fell in January in 1914, 1919 and 1986.

Less than half an inch of snow has fallen in Wichita since Dec. 1. Wichita is more than 8 inches below normal for snowfall so far this winter.

The warm, dry month can’t be blamed on a stagnant weather pattern, weather service meteorologist Kevin Darmofal said. Fronts have been rolling through the Great Plains every few days, he said.

"We just don’t have the moisture" coming up from the Gulf of Mexico for the fronts to interact with, he said. "It’s been pretty much cut off, or it gets shunted off to the east of us before it gets here."

That pattern may finally break down by the end of the week, he said, when rain – and maybe some snow – is possible in the Wichita area.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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