Finger on the Weather

January – one of Wichita’s wettest – helps stave off drought

Drought is gradually squeezing Kansas in a vice, pushing toward the center of the state from both the eastern and western borders.

But Sedgwick County is part of about a third of the state not in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and January helped maintain that condition.

Wichita recorded 2.79 inches of rain in the first month of 2017. Only three times has more rain fallen in the first month of the year in Wichita, according to the National Weather Service.

This year’s total is just short of 2 inches above average. Most of the rain fell in a three-day span at midmonth.

While flurries danced a few times in January, no measurable snow fell in the month. Wichita has logged just 2 inches of snow so far this winter.

That doesn’t mean cold weather stayed away, however. The temperature fell to single digits on Jan. 6 and 7, and the high was a mere 20 degrees on Jan. 5.

There were four days in January on which the temperature didn’t get as high as freezing. Temperatures pushed into the 60s or higher six times. The 73 on Monday broke the record high for the date set in 1890.

That helps explain why the average temperature for the month, 36.2, was 4 degrees above normal.

Several thousand people are without power in western Kansas after an ice storm coated the region during the weekend. Many local schools are closed and emergency crews are encouraging residents without power to get shelter. (Jan. 17, 2017)

Dashcam video shows a semi losing control on a rain-slick Kansas interstate Sunday morning, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. It crossed the median of I-70 in Russell County, into oncoming lanes and nearly hit a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper