December 2006 Climate Outlook For Central, South-Central and Southeast Kansas *

Chris Bowman, Meteorologist, NWS Wichita, December 1st, 2006

With the warmest temperature ever recorded for the month of November at Wichita of 86 degrees on November 8th and all of the area seeing record highs that day, November finished warmer than normal for all areas. Despite the very cold temperatures to close out the month, the final numbers were 4.0, 3.6 and 4.2 degrees above normal for Wichita, Salina and Chanute respectively.

However, despite the warm temperatures, all areas saw well below normal precipitation for the month which can illustrated in this Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) image generated by the High Plains Regional Climate Center. More information on the SPI can be found here. The lack of precipitation led to a worsening of drought conditions across the area. Most of South Central and all of Southeast Kansas is in at least a moderate drought. Severe to exceptional drought conditions exist in far southern Kansas and portions Southeast Kansas. The following link is the official drought outlook through February 2007.

What will December bring? Will above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation continue? These questions will be answered below by investigating medium to long range numerical weather models from the Earth System Research Laboratory, as well as official outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). But first we'll take a look at December temperature and precipitation normals for Wichita, Salina and Chanute.


Normals for the Stations Identified:

Wichita
Salina
Chanute
Temperatures
Temperatures
Temperatures
Date
High
Low
Date
High
Low
Date
High
Low
1st-10th
45.9
26.6
1st-10th
45.2
25.3
1st-10th
46.9
27.7
11th-20th
42.9
23.9
11th-20th
42.3
22.5
11th-20th
43.7
24.8
21st-30th
40.5
21.5
21st-30th
40.0
20.3
21st-30th
41.4
22.5
Precipitation
Precipitation
Precipitation
Date
Amount (inches)
Date
Amount (inches)
Date
Amount (inches)
1st-10th
0.50
1st-10th
0.33
1st-10th
0.74
11th-20th
0.47
11th-20th
0.33
11th-20th
0.66
21st-30th
0.38
21st-30th
0.28
21st-30th
0.49

 


Official November Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

The official December outlook produced by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for equal chances for above, below or near normal temperatures across central, south-central and southeast Kansas. The outlook also calls for equal chances of above, below or near normal precipitation across central, south-central and southeast Kansas. However, we will fine tune this official forecast in the following sections.

The National Weather Service uses a three tier classification system. For more information on interpreting CPC's outlooks click here.

 

Outlook for December 1st - 15th

The temperature anomalies for first few days of December will be greatly influenced by which areas received snow and which areas did not. Generally, Central Kansas did not receive nearly as much snow as South Central and Southeast Kansas and the result will be that as the shallow cold air moves east (figures 1a-3a) their temperatures will rebound to normal and possibly above normal quicker than areas south and east. For South Central and Southeast Kansas several days of well below normal temperatures are expected until the snow melts. Since Southeast Kansas received the most snow the rebound in temperatures there will be the most delayed of the three regions. As the first half of the month progresses, temperatures aloft start to warm (figure 4a). This should result in a return to near to slightly above normal temperatures heading into the second week of December. By the end of the second week of December upper-level troughing is expected to develop over the West and progress east across the center portion of the United States (figures 5a-6a). This would result potentially unsettled weather conditions heading into the second half of the month. It is possible that we could see temperatures rise to above normal levels ahead of the troughs and fall to below normal levels on the backside of the troughs. Overall however, it looks like the first of December will see below normal temperatures for South Central and Southeast Kansas with near and possibly above normal temperatures for Central Kansas.

As for precipitation, snow melt in South Central and Southeast Kansas will provide little relief to the ongoing severe to exceptional drought conditions. Also, the first week to week and half of December (figures 1b-4b) looks to continue the dry conditions we have been seeing. There is some hope that with the progressive upper-level troughs expected by the middle of the second week in December that this will lead to, at the very least, chances for precipitation (figures 5b-6b) heading into the middle part of the month. As a result, the first week and half of December looks dry with the potential for precipitation heading into the middle of the month.

The continued dry conditions for first week to week and half of December may result in worsening of drought conditions across the area.

Figure 1a: Forecast 850 mb temperature anomaly for Dec. 1st.

Figure 1b: Forecast precipitation for Dec. 1st.

Figure 2a: Forecast 850 mb temperature anomaly for Dec. 3rd.

Figure 2b: Forecast precipitation for Dec. 3rd.

Figure 3a: Forecast 850 mb temperature anomaly for Dec. 6th.

Figure 3b: Forecast precipitation for Dec. 6th.

Figure 4a: Forecast 850 mb temperature anomaly for Dec. 9th.

Figure 4b: Forecast precipitation for Dec. 9th.

Figure 5a: Forecast 500mb height for Dec. 13th.

Figure 5b: Forecast precipitation for Dec. 13th.

Figure 6a: Forecast 500mb height for Dec. 15th.

Figure 6b: Forecast precipitation for Dec. 15th.

 

Outlook for December 16th - 31st

The top set of images below are official December-February temperature and precipitation outlooks from the CPC. The bottom two images are Equatorial Pacific sea-surface temperatures and associated anomalies from the CPC. They may provide a hint as to what the second half of December will bring.

A continuation of a moderate El Nino (warmer than normal sea-surface temperatures across the Equatorial Eastern Pacific) is expected through at least February. Moderate El Nino events, on average, lead to warmer than normal temperatures for Kansas region during winter months. This supports higher probabilities of above normal temperatures the 2nd half of December.

Furthermore, moderate El Nino events, on average, bring wetter than normal conditions to Kansas region during the during the same time frame, due to an active subtropical jet stream. This supports higher probabilities that the second half of December will be wetter than normal. However, it should be noted that long-range precipitation outlooks are typically much lower in confidence than long-range temperature outlooks, as is the case for the second half of December.

If warranted, an update to this outlook will be sent within the first few weeks of December.

 


* These outlooks are "downscaled" from official products issued by NOAA's Climate Prediction and Climate Diagnostics Centers, using local expertise and knowledge of large scale climate impacts on the local area that we serve.


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