Kansas State University

  1. K-State Home
  2. »Agronomy Home
  3. »K-State Agronomy eUpdates
  4. »eUpdate 543 January 8th, 2016»Annual 2015 weather summary for Kansas: Warm and wet

K-State Agronomy eUpdates

Department of Agronomy

Kansas State University

2004 Throckmorton PSC

Manhatan, KS 66506

785-532-6101

agronomy@ksu.edu

Extension Agronomy

Annual 2015 weather summary for Kansas: Warm and wet

At the start of 2015, more than 80 percent of the state was in some form of drought, with almost 2 percent in extreme drought. By the end of the year, that had switched to almost 98 percent of the state being drought-free. The year ranked as the 15th wettest since 1895. The reversal took most of the year. Statewide average precipitation was below normal for the first 3 months, but switched to a wetter pattern in April. By May, only the Northwest and North Central Divisions were below average for the year-to-date. The Southwest Division averaged 7.73 inches, more than 2 ½ times the normal for May.

The statewide average was 7.57 inches, making it the third wettest May on record. A drier-than-average pattern in late summer (August-September) allowed for drought conditions to reappear and expand. However, the year ended on a wet note, with both November and December averaging above normal. December statewide average precipitation was 2.28 inches, more than double the normal December total. Only the Northwest Division had a drier-than-normal December, with an average of 0.50 inches, or 80 percent of normal. The greatest annual total for the year was recorded at Oswego, in Labette County, at 59.2 inches. The driest reporting station was 16.12 inches at Loretta, in Rush County, with just 16.12 inches. The greatest 24-hour precipitation total reported was 6.9 inches at Sun City in Barber County on July 30th

 

Snow was not as much of a factor in 2015. The biggest impact came as an early November event, which signaled the onset of wetter conditions at the end of the year. The greatest total for the year was 34.1 inches at Atwood in Rawlins County. This location also reported the greatest 24-hour total with 22 inches on the 11th of November. The state average annual snowfall for 2015 was 8.6 inches, well below the 2014 average of more than 21 inches. The greatest snowfall totals were seen in the Northwest Division, while several stations reported no snow at all in 2015. In the southeast, much of the moisture that ended the year came as rain, not snow.

Temperatures averaged above normal for the year. Statewide average temperature in 2015 was 56.1 degrees F, which places it as the 11th warmest on record. Only February, May, and October averaged below normal. September and December vied for the greatest departure from normal. September averaged 74.2 degrees F, or 5.9 degrees warmer than normal; December averaged 37.7 degrees F, or 5.8 degrees warmer than normal.  

Temperatures fluctuated considerably during the year, ranging from 110 degrees F at Hudson (Stafford County) on July 14th to -16 degrees F at St. Francis (Cheyenne County) on January 1st. Despite being warmer than average, all divisions also had temperatures plunging below zero. Even the Southeast Division recorded sub-zero temperatures, the coldest of which was -3 degrees F at Cassoday on January 8th.

The average date for the last spring freeze was April 18th. The earliest start to the growing season was a last freeze on March 29th at various locations. Clay Center had the latest freezing temperature with 31 degrees F reported on May 22nd. There were widespread temperatures of 32 degrees F or lower in western Kansas on the 12th of May. The first fall freeze was also early in parts of the state. The average date was October 13th, but there were reports of freezing temperatures parts of the state on September 19th and 20th.The latest first frost was reported at Big Hill Lake on November 22nd when temperatures plunged to 24 oF. The average length of the growing season was 200 days. The shortest growing season was at Dresden in Decatur County with 147 days. The station with the longest growing season was Yates Center, Woodson County, with 230 days.

Drought conditions have shifted over the year, but end in a similar pattern to the start of the year. While none of the state was in exceptional drought, almost 6 percent of the state was in extreme drought conditions at the start of the year. By the end of the year, the portion of the state in extreme drought dropped to 2 percent. Wet conditions during the summer eased the impacts significantly. By the end of the summer, most of the eastern half of the state had moved into a drought-free status. Lack of moisture in the late fall resulted in deterioration. That meant abnormally dry conditions returned to the east. However, the wet end to the year substantially reduced the drought coverage across the state. Little change is expected during the winter. Normal spring rains are critical for continued improvement in drought conditions. The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has enhanced moisture across the region, and is expected to continue into the spring. The uncertainty of the continued El Niño provides little guidance for the summer seasonal outlook.

 

Severe weather was a factor in 2015, and the tornado season was more active than in previous years, particularly in November. Preliminary numbers from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) show a total of 178 tornadoes in 2015. This compares to a five-year average (2008-2012) of 116 tornadoes. 

There were 519 hail reports and 454 reports of damaging winds. According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) storm database, there were 202 flood or flash flood events affecting over 75 counties through the end of September 2015. Preliminary reports of total damage to property and crops from the floods was more than 6.8 million dollars. Generally, these property and crop damage reports are underestimated. In many cases, crop damage isn’t immediately available and fails to be included in the storm total. Likewise, property damage from uninsured losses often is also missing in the overall total.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Summary

Kansas Climate Division Summary

 

Precipitation (inches)

Temperature (oF)

 

2015 Jan. through Dec.

 

 

Monthly Extremes

Division

Total

Dep. 1

% Normal

Ave

Dep. 1

Max

Min

Northwest

20.84

-0.52

97

54.2

2.1

107

-17

West Central

21.67

0.90

103

55.1

1.7

106

-10

Southwest

28.23

8.33

141

57.4

2.3

108

-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Central

27.45

-0.56

96

55.4

2.0

108

-6

Central

28.57

-0.72

96

57.1

2.2

108

-6

South Central

34.90

3.58

111

57.7

1.3

110

-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northeast

39.55

4.55

112

54.8

1.4

102

-10

East Central

37.57

-0.35

97

56.5

1.5

103

-8

Southeast

41.69

0.20

99

57.9

1.1

104

-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATE

32.68

3.66

113

56.2

1.7

110

-17

 

           

 

1. Departure from 1981-2010 normal value

2. State Highest temperature: 110 oF at Hudson (Stafford County) on July 14th.

3. State Lowest temperature: -17 oF at St. Francis (Cheyenne County), January 1st

4. Greatest Annual rainfall: 59.2 inches at Oswego, Labette County (NWS); 64.05 at Topeka 4.6 ESE, Shawnee County (CoCoRaHS).

Source: KSU Weather Data Library

 

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
mknapp@ksu.edu