Mention August to many Kansans, and they will conjure up thoughts of a dry month filled with summer’s sizzle.
But 2016 has defied the stereotype.
“We’ve been pretty wet around here,” Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, said Friday.
Officially, Wichita has logged 8.24 inches of rain this month, which makes it the fourth-wettest August on record. That’s more than 5 inches above average.
Wichita has recorded just one 100-degree day this month, when several is more the norm. Earlier this month, heat index readings often rose above 100, making Kansans feel like they had moved to the Gulf Coast.
“We’ve got a moist, almost tropical-like environment now,” Lawson said. “It’s been here for the past couple of weeks.
“Any time we do get rain, they’re producing the high rainfall rates” — sometimes as much as 2 to 3 inches in an hour.
The wet August is continuing the damp summer pattern, Lawson said. As of Friday morning, Wichita had recorded 20.74 inches of rain since June 1, making 2016 the third-wettest meteorological summer on record.
Wichita’s wettest summer came in 2005, when 23.61 inches of rain fell from June through August.
This month’s totals deserve something of an asterisk because they could easily be much higher. On more than one occasion, hard rains that fell on other parts of the city or metro area missed or hardly sprinkled at the official recording site next to Eisenhower National Airport.
Early Friday morning, for instance, Wichita logged .06 inch of rain, while locations south of Hutchinson received 2 to 3 inches. When 5 to 7 inches fell between Derby and Mulvane last weekend, little more than an inch fell at the weather service offices.
If those rains had been included in Wichita’s records, Lawson said, “We’d be moving up the ranks.”
Not that forecasters or residents are complaining, though. As saturated as local soils are, heavy rains would have triggered additional flooding.
With more storms in the forecast, the Wichita Fire Department is asking residents to avoid low-lying, flood-prone areas for the next few days, according to a news release from the city. The Fire Department also said to avoid the Arkansas River and area creeks.