January weather summary for Kansas: Welcome moisture for some areas
After an extended period with little to no moisture, parts of Kansas recorded some significant precipitation. At Tribune, a small snow event on January 12th snapped a 97-day period without any precipitation. This ties the previous record set in 1901. When it comes to a wetting precipitation event – defined as a tenth of an inch or greater – Elkhart is just two days shy of the 120-day record set in 1936. Manhattan established a new record of 87 days, which ended on January 10th with 0.17 inches. The previous record was 76 days set in 1927. Statewide, the average precipitation was 0.34 inches or 46 percent of normal. The East Central Division came closest to normal with 0.65 inches or 67 percent of normal. The South Central Division, with just 0.18 inches, had the lowest percent of normal with just 21 percent. The greatest monthly precipitation totals were 2.52 inches at Osage City, Osage County (NWS) and 2.05 inches at St. Francis 12.1 NW, Cheyenne County (CoCoRaHS). Most of the precipitation came in the form of snowfall. A series of storms brought snowfall mainly across the northern half of Kansas. Forty-six locations set daily records for snowfall. Multiple locations tied for the greatest daily snowfall at 9 inches at Atwood, Rawlins County, on the 22nd. The greatest snowfall totals for the month were 12 inches at Atwood, Rawlins County (NWS) and 14.4 inches at Goodland 16.6 NW, Sherman County (CoCoRaHS).
January continued the pattern of wide temperatures swings, as might be expected with the dry air in place. The statewide average temperature was 28.8 degrees F, or 1.1 degrees cooler-than-normal. The warm days weren’t persistent enough to outweigh the very cold start to the month. The western divisions came closest to normal, with the Southwest Division coming in as the warmest, averaging 32.7 degrees F, or 0.1 degrees warmer-than-normal. The central and eastern divisions were all colder-than-normal. The Northeast Division had the greatest departure, with an average of 25.0 degrees F or 2.5 degrees cooler-than-normal. The warmest temperature reported for the month was 83 degrees F at Medicine Lodge, Barber County, on the 20th. The coldest reading was -16 degrees F at Belleville, Republic County, on the 1st. Records were set on both the cold and warm end of the spectrum. On the cold side, there were 37 new record low maximum temperatures and 31 new record low minimum temperatures. On the warm side, there were 41 new record high maximum temperatures and 53 new record high minimums.
Unsurprisingly, given the dry conditions, there were no severe weather reports during the month. In addition to several winter weather advisories, there were several days with extreme fire danger and also several days with wind chill warnings.
With much below-normal precipitation, there was a steep increase in the drought conditions. Extreme drought conditions now cover almost 5 percent of the state. Severe drought has expanded to a quarter of the state while moderate drought covers an additional 36 percent of the state. No area of Kansas is currently drought-free.
The February outlook has a slight chance for drier-than-normal conditions in the southern half the state, and equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation in the rest of the state. Given the low amount of moisture that typically is seen in February, improvement in the current drought status is unlikely. With the wet summer last year and current dryness, increased fire danger continues.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library