Weather

Heat, humidity worst since '80

Last spring, AccuWeather and the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offered vastly different outlooks for the coming summer in Wichita.

Joe Bastardi, AccuWeather's chief long-range meteorologist, predicted a hot, dry summer for Wichita. The Climate Prediction Center called for a cool, damp summer in Kansas.

Summer has come and gone, so who was right?

Bastardi is claiming victory, as Wichita recorded its hottest summer since 1980 — a year that still dominates the city's weather records.

Yet it wasn't exactly a dry summer in the metropolitan area: More than 12 inches of rain fell in June, July and August, or 18 percent more than normal.

One could argue the forecasts were each half right.

While it was the hottest summer in Wichita in 30 years, National Weather Service meteorologist Robb Lawson said, it wasn't because of a long string of 100-degree days like 1980.

"We didn't set a whole lot of high-temperature records," Lawson said.

There were 17 days of triple-digit temperatures this summer, but that was only four days above the city's annual average. And it is a far cry from 1980, which had 44 100-degree days, or 1936, which had 47.

The culprit, Lawson said, was unusually warm overnight lows.

"It seemed unusually muggy this summer compared to other summers," Lawson said. "Anytime you have a lot of moisture, your overnight temperature tends to not cool off."

There were 64 days during this summer where the overnight low did not fall below 70 degrees, according to the weather service. That's well above the average of 37, and ranks third all-time behind 1934 and 1954.

The average temperature — which combines the average daily high and average daily low — was 82.3 degrees, 3.5 degrees above normal. That made this the fifth-warmest summer since records began in 1888.

"Either way, I think you can agree, it was not a cool summer in Wichita," Bastardi said.

Lawson concurred, saying the frequently muggy conditions left locals feeling miserable at times.

"It was extremely uncomfortable," he said.

  Comments