Forecasters project a crisp, damp autumn for Kansas

Sweaters figure to be making early appearances around Wichita and umbrellas may need to be close at hand this fall if several forecasts prove accurate.

A cool, rather damp summer in the Wichita area is going to be followed by a cool autumn that will be notably wetter than last year, an AccuWeather official said Friday.

In fact, AccuWeather’s Paul Pastelok said, portions of northwest Kansas could see snow by October.

“The amount of rainfall we’ve seen across the central U.S., it’ll translate also into the fall – and hold back temperatures,” said Pastelok, AccuWeather’s long-term forecast expert, who released his fall forecast last week.

The first frost could come earlier than normal in much of Kansas, he said, including Wichita. The average first frost for Wichita arrives Oct. 25, with the first hard freeze commonly arriving around Nov. 11.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is projecting a slightly cooler and slightly wetter than average stretch from September through November.

Larry Ruthi, meteorologist in charge of the Dodge City branch of the National Weather Service, concurred with AccuWeather and the Climate Prediction Center.

“I would not absolutely guarantee a moist and cool season” for Kansas, he said in an e-mail response to questions. “However, most available indicators suggest this solution.”

Wichita averages 7.35 inches of rain during autumn, Pastelok said, but in 2013 logged just 5.68 inches. He’s predicting more than 8 inches of rain for Wichita this fall.

While that’s not significantly above average, Pastelok said it will seem unusually wet compared to last year. The jet stream that commonly moves through the southern Great Plains in the autumn will be quite active this year, he said.

“When that happens, there’s a lot more moisture involved” with storm systems moving through Kansas, Pastelok said.

El Ninos – unusually warm water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific – typically translate into increased autumn precipitation for the southern Great Plains, including Kansas. NOAA announced on its website last week that a “weak to moderate” El Nino is setting up later this year.

Pastelok said he is convinced it will be a weak El Nino, however. That means there won’t be any precipitation records set in the Sunflower State this fall, he said.

It also means other atmospheric factors could more significantly impact the weather this autumn, forecasters say.

September may have a surge of warm air early in the month before summer retreats, Pastelok said. October will be an active weather month and probably notably cooler than average, he said, before the weather calms down in November.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.