It sure was hot this summer … but not for very long

Sunrise drone flight over Cheney State Park

(AUGUST 29, 2017) - Take a sunrise drone flight over Cheney State Park.
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(AUGUST 29, 2017) - Take a sunrise drone flight over Cheney State Park.

If it seems like summer was shorter than normal this year in the Wichita area, it’s not just your imagination.

“Spring was early and it stayed late,” National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Metzger said.

And except for about a one-week stretch in the middle of the month, August more closely resembled an appetizer for autumn.

“This summer really has been nice,” Metzger said.

That’s not to say Wichita escaped the heat this year. The city still logged nine 100-degree days, which is right in line with the 30-year average. They just happened to come all in the same month: July.

This year offered the 14th latest first 90-degree day in Wichita history and not a single 100 in the commonly sizzling month of August. Records show Wichita topped 94 just three times in August.

With an average temperature more than three degrees below normal, this was the coolest August in nearly a decade and ranks 17th in coolest Augusts in Wichita history.

Forecast models suggest the cool weather will persist through the autumn, said Paul Pastelok, long-range forecaster for AccuWeather.

“There’s a lot of cool, dry air that wants to keep funneling down to you guys” in the Great Plains, Pastelok said.

That weather pattern is what gave Kansas such a cool August. There were just nine days of 90 degrees or more in August, tied for the ninth fewest in Wichita history and just half the average number for a typical August, said Andy Kleinsasser, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the weather service.

Because the air dropping down into Kansas from northwestern Canada was dry, it translated into not much rain for Wichita.

The 8.51 inches of rain that fell from June through August was nearly 4 inches below normal, tying for the driest summer in five years, Kleinsasser said.

A dry, cool August is pretty unusual, said Mick McGuire, a meteorologist with the weather service. Historically, cool Augusts have been accompanied by plenty of rain.

“What does it mean? That’s a good question,” McGuire said. “I can’t remember in recent memory an August when we were cool and dry.”

While AccuWeather expects a cool, relatively dry autumn for Kansas, the Climate Prediction Center is projecting the season to a be a bit warmer than normal for the Sunflower State. The southeast corner could see a bit more precipitation than normal as well.

The early arrival of autumn does not mean Old Man Winter will settle in sooner than normal, Kleinsasser said. Both the average autumn and average winter temperatures following the 25 coolest Augusts in Wichita were less than a half-degree from normal.

“There really is no correlation” between a cool August and an early winter, Kleinsasser said in an e-mail response to questions. “You basically just end up banging your head on the desk” trying to connect the two.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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