June 15, 2014

So far, it’s been a cool June

Remember when the thermometer hit 102 in early May and folks began fretting that Wichita was facing a blast furnace of a summer?

Remember when the thermometer hit 102 in early May and folks began fretting that Wichita was facing a blast furnace of a summer?

Well, June didn’t get the memo.

Through the first half of the month, the temperature hasn’t come close to triple digits in Wichita. There have been more high temperatures in the 70s than there have been in the 90s.

Folks are shivering at night and wearing jackets first thing in the morning.

The cool stretch also has featured periods of rain, which have nibbled away at Wichita’s substantial precipitation deficit for the year. Through Sunday morning, 5.28 inches of rain had fallen in Wichita, about double the average for the first half of the month.

These recent rains have hoisted Wichita’s rainfall for 2014 to 11.35 inches. That’s still about 3 inches below normal to this point of the year, but the deficit has been trimmed significantly over the past couple of weeks.

That moisture has eased the drought in Kansas as well. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 53.6 percent of the state was in severe, extreme or exceptional drought as of June 10. That’s down more than 22 percent from just the week before.

“We’ve needed the rain,” said Jerilyn Billings, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

The cool, wet weather has dominated because the dome of high pressure that commonly sets up over the Great Plains in the summer isn’t parked over Kansas, meteorologists said. That has allowed the jet stream to drop down into the Sunflower State, bringing storm systems with it.

“The jet stream is just pulling them further south than normal for this time of summer,” Billings said.

That’s bringing cooler air from the north as well.

“We don’t have a big ridge moving overhead, and I don’t see any of that coming” in the near future, Billings said. “As long as we stay in this pattern, it’s basically wave after wave” of showers and thunderstorms a few days apart.

That moisture helps keep temperatures down, because energy from the sun is used to evaporate moisture rather than warm the air, said Mike Smith, a senior vice president for AccuWeather.

The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting much cooler than average temperatures for most of the nation’s heartland — including Kansas — over the next couple of weeks. Average highs in Wichita this time of year are in the mid- to upper 80s.

“We should stay cooler,” Billings said. “We shouldn’t have lots of chances at 100” for the rest of June.

That’s no small milestone, considering Wichita logged 11 June 100s in 2011 and 7 in 2012. For all the early angst it generated, that 102 on May 4 remains the only triple-digit high recorded in Wichita so far this year.

“I’m sure happy with the way June has turned out so far,” Smith said.

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