By: Andy Kleinsasser, Meteorologist
Several top 10 records were set across the area.
The Wichita annual average temperature of 56.4 degrees has been exceeded each year since 1998, and 2006 would not be the exception. With an average temperature of 59.5 degrees, Wichita tallied its 5th warmest year on record, and warmest year since 1954, which was also the warmest year on record. Records for Wichita date back to July 1, 1888.All months except February, September and October were above normal. Of greatest note was the month of January. Wichita's average monthly temperature was 43.2 degrees, 13.0 degrees above normal, setting an all- time record for the month. The average high temperature for the month was 56.6 degrees, a whopping 16.5 degrees above normal! The runner-up was the month of April. Wichita's average monthly April temperature was 63.1 degrees, 7.8 degrees above normal, which was 3rd warmest on record, and the warmest April since 1981. With March and May also above normal, spring 2006 went down in the record books as the warmest on record for Wichita. Despite the deadly mid to late summer heat waves across the area, summer 2006 paled in comparison to past summer heat, notably the 30s, 50s, and 1980. Of greatest note may be Wichita's 2006 average July high temperature of 96.0 degrees, 3.1 degrees above normal. November and December were also relatively warm at 4.0 and 5.4 degrees above normal, respectively. It was the 5th warmest December since 1948, and the warmest since 1991. With the warmth came dry conditions. Wichita's annual total of 29.36 inches was 1.02 inches below normal, and was the driest year since 2001. All months except May, June, August and December recorded below normal precipitation. February 2006 tied for the driest on record with only a trace, and the fall season was 6th driest on record at 2.12 inches, which was also the driest fall since 1966. Unfortunately, reliable long-term records are not available for most other sites across Central, South Central and Southeast Kansas. However it can be assumed with high confidence that many sites also recorded conditions much warmer and drier than normal in 2006. It is likely most sites recorded one of the warmest years on record, along with one of the warmest January's on record. Information for a handful of other sites follows: For Chanute, the annual average temperature of 58.9 degrees was 2.6 degrees above normal, and possibly the warmest year on record since 1954. All months except three were above normal. January had the highest departure at 11.1 degrees above normal, likely one of the highest on record. April was 5.9 degrees above normal, and the spring months in general were well above normal. The average August temperature was 4.9 degrees above normal, and was the warmest since 2000. Summer 2006 likely combined to be one of the hottest summers since 1980. After relatively cool conditions September and October, well above normal temperatures returned for November and December. One of the more notable 2006 Chanute highlights was the well below normal precipitation. Only 28.84 inches was recorded at the airport, a staggering 13.11 inches below normal. All months were below normal except April and December. Like Wichita, February recorded only a trace of precipitation. The greatest monthly deficits include 3.21 inches in June, and 3.05 inches in September. The total summer rainfall deficit was 6.47 inches, and was likely one of the driest summers since 1980. For Salina, the annual average temperature of 58.8 degrees was 3.1 degrees above normal, and possibly the warmest year since 1954. All months except two were above normal. January had the highest departure at 13.4 degrees above normal, likely one of the highest on record. April was 6.3 degrees above normal, and the spring months in general were well above normal, likely resulting in one of the warmest springs since 1949. Summer 2006 likely combined to be one of the hottest summers since 1980. Relatively cool conditions prevailed for September and October, September possibly being one of the coolest since 1949. Well above normal temperatures returned for November and December, likely one of the warmest November-December periods since 1949. Below normal precipitation was also the name of the game at Salina, recording only 25.48 inches, a deficit of 6.71 inches. Eight out of twelve months recorded below normal precipitation. Like Wichita and Chanute, February recorded only a trace of precipitation. July rainfall was only 0.79 inches, 3.53 inches below normal, and likely one of the driest Julys over the past 20 years. After a wet August, dry conditions continued through the fall months. November 2006 was likely one of the driest on record, measuring only 0.06 inches. In summary, it can be inferred from the above data that most locations across Central, South Central and Southeast Kansas likely experienced a much warmer and drier than normal 2006. In-depth climate data for much of Central, South Central and Southeast Kansas can be found at the following website: http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=ict