Kansas weather summary for May: Summer heat arrives early
May brought the heat
May came close to setting the record as the hottest since 1895. The state-wide average temperature for the month was 70.6 degrees F. This was 7.2 degrees warmer-than-normal, and ranked as the second warmest. The swing from the cold of April to the warmth of May was the largest change on record at 23.7 degrees. The Northeast Division had the greatest departure with an average of 72.4 degrees F which was almost 9 degrees warmer than the long term average. The Northwest Division came closest to normal with an average of 64.5 degrees F, which was a departure from normal of +4.6 degrees. There were 90 new record daily warm maximum temperatures, of which 6 set new record warm maximums for the month. In addition, there were 60 new daily record warm minimum temperatures, of which 1 set a new record for the month. This month, there were no new records on the cold side for either coldest maximum or coldest minimum temperatures. This is one reason that the monthly average was so much warmer-than-normal with relatively few records. The warmest temperature reported during the month was 103 degrees F at Abilene, Dickinson County on the 29th. The coldest temperature reported during May was 35 degrees F, reported at Syracuse, Hamilton County, on May 4.
May also brought some rain
While May continued the pattern of below-normal precipitation, it was much closer to normal. The state-wide average precipitation was 3.92 inches which was 94 percent of normal. Since May was much warmer-than-normal, the benefit from that precipitation was less than it might have been. The division with the largest surplus was the West Central Division, with an average of 3.66, or 114 percent of normal. The East Central Division had the greatest departure, with an average of 3.48 inches or 67 percent of normal. The greatest monthly total for a National Weather Service Cooperative station was Wakeeney, Trego County, with 11.88 inches. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network station with the greatest monthly precipitation was Latham 0.2 W, Butler County, with 8.95 inches. Among the Kansas Mesonet stations, the Hill City station in Graham County had the greatest total at 7.49 inches.
Severe weather update
With the resurgence of moisture, severe weather reports during the month also increased. With 34 tornadoes reported, it was slightly higher than the average of 24 (based on 1950-2016 SPC data), and makes a slight dent in the late start to the season. There were 258 hail reports and 131 damaging wind reports. One of the most destructive events was the heavy flooding in Graham and Gove counties, where widespread rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches were reported.
The northwest and southeast corners of Kansas remain drought-free, and there was some reduction in the most severe drought categories. Exceptional drought conditions now cover just under 2 percent of the state, while extreme drought covers an additional 14 percent of the state. Severe drought has expanded to 30 percent of the state while moderate drought covers an additional 23 percent of the state. The June outlook has a slight chance for drier-than-normal conditions across the state. The temperature outlook is for warmer-than-normal temperatures statewide. Unfortunately, that forecast combination is unlikely to result in significant improvement of the drought conditions.
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library