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K-State Agronomy eUpdates

Department of Agronomy

Kansas State University

2004 Throckmorton PSC

Manhatan, KS 66506

785-532-6101

agronomy@ksu.edu

Extension Agronomy

Kansas weather summary for March 2016: Another roller coaster

March started with much warmer-than-normal temperatures, continuing the trend from February. The statewide average temperature was 48.7 degrees F, which was 5.2 degrees warmer than normal. That places this March as the 10th warmest on record. The warmest March occurred in 2012, when the average temperature was 55.5 degrees F. The coldest March recorded was in 1916, when the average temperature was just 30.3 degrees F. The Northeastern Division had the largest departure with a mean temperature of 48.7 degrees F, or 6.0 degrees warmer than average. There were fewer daily record highs than in February, but still 35 new daily records established. In addition to the new record high temperatures, there were 57 new record warm minimum temperatures set. The warmest high temperature was 90 degrees F recorded at Ashland (Clark County) on the 23rd. There was one new record cold high temperature: 39 degrees F set at WaKeeney (Trego County) on the 23rd.  The coldest reading for the month was 2 degrees F observed at WaKeeney (Trego County) on the 27th. This illustrates the rapid temperature swings that were prevalent throughout the month. Daily temperature swings of more than 50 degrees were experienced on several occasions. All parts of the state had temperatures below 32 degrees F, prolonging the winter season. These low temperatures after the warm conditions in February and early March brought concerns of damage to vegetation that moved out of dormancy early. This was especially true for winter wheat.

 

The overall precipitation pattern for March was drier than normal. The Southeast Division came closest to normal with an average of 1.89 inches or 61 percent of normal. In contrast, the Southwest Division averaged just 0.05 inches, or 3 percent of normal. The Garden City airport reported only a trace of precipitation in the entire month. The statewide average precipitation was 0.77 inches, or 31 percent of normal. This ranks as the 14th driest March on record. Despite the overall dry pattern, a few locations saw significant rain and a small portion of southeast Kansas actually had above-normal precipitation for the month. The greatest monthly total was 4.83 inches at Mound Valley 3WSW, Labette County (NWS). The greatest total for CoCoRaHS stations was 2.87 inches at Wichita 4.5 ENE, Sedgwick County. Twelve locations set new daily precipitation records for March. Not surprisingly, Mound Valley was one of those locations with 2.66 inches of the monthly total reported on the 31st.

 

Despite the warmer-than-normal temperatures, snow was again a feature during the month. The greatest 24-hour total was 6 inches at Kingman on the 27th. Hutchinson 10SW was the station with the greatest monthly total for the state at 7.9 inches.

 

Severe weather season moved slowly in March.  There was 1 tornado reported in Cowley County, as well as 12 hail reports and one severe wind report.  The major event was the Anderson Creek fire in south central Kansas. One of the largest wildfire in Kansas history, it started in Oklahoma. Extreme fire weather conditions with winds in excess of 50 mph and humidity levels as low as 15 percent drove the fire into Kansas in Barber and Comanche counties. Almost 400,000 acres were burned before the fire was contained. This was the largest of many wildfires across the state as extreme fire weather conditions were prevalent this month and fuel loads were high due to ample moisture in the fall.

As might be expected with the warmer and drier conditions, there was broad expansion of drier-than-normal conditions, and moderate drought. The moderate drought was mostly seen in the southwest, where active vegetation coupled with warm temperatures, high winds, and low humidity are beginning to have impacts. The disappointing moisture totals, despite the snowy end to the month, are likely to fuel further expansion in drought conditions. Currently, about a quarter of the state is drought-free. Last week that was at more than 40 percent. The precipitation outlook for April is neutral, with equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation. However, the short-term outlooks are for drier-than-average conditions for the first half of the month. The forecast confidence is low at this time of the year.

 

 

March 2016

Kansas Climate Division Summary

 

Precipitation (inches)

Temperature (oF)

 

March 2016

2016 Jan through March

 

 

Monthly Extremes

Division

Total

Dep. 1

% Normal

Total

Dep. 1

% Normal

Ave

Dep. 1

Max

Min

Northwest

0.29

-1.05

23

1.38

-0.97

60

45.5

5.0

86

6

West Central

0.42

-1.01

28

1.32

-1.23

49

46.3

4.4

87

2

Southwest

0.05

-1.34

3

0.36

-2.07

14

48.8

4.4

90

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Central

0.44

-1.62

20

1.81

-1.74

50

48.2

5.7

82

18

Central

0.63

-1.66

27

1.97

-2.07

49

49.7

5.6

87

17

South Central

0.97

-1.68

35

1.67

-3.04

34

51.4

5.6

88

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northeast

0.99

-1.34

42

2.26

-2.04

52

48.7

6.0

82

16

East Central

1.26

-1.43

46

2.42

-2.61

47

49.6

5.5

82

19

Southeast

1.89

-1.17

61

2.95

-3.16

48

50.5

4.4

81

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATE

0.77

-1.38

31

1.76

-2.17

42

48.7

5.2

90

2

 

                 

 

1. Departure from 1981-2010 normal value

2. State Highest temperature: 90 oF at Ashland (Clark County) on the 23rd.

3. State Lowest temperature: 2 oF at WaKeeney (Trego County) on the 27th.

4. Greatest 24hr rainfall: 4.83 inches at Mound Valley 3WSW, Labette County (NWS); 2.10 inches at Arkansas City 6.9 E, Cowley County, on the 10th (CoCoRaHS).

Source: KSU Weather Data Library

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library
mknapp@ksu.edu