By: Eric Schminke



Astronomically speaking, Summer 2009 ended on September 22nd at 4:18 PM CDT for Central and Southeast Kansas. However, from a meteorological standpoint, Summer ended on August 31st, and for most of Central and Southeast Kansas, it was fairly cool and wet. Let's see how cool and wet this past summer was from a historical perspective.

Temperature and rainfall data from Summer 2009 will be examined for three cities: Wichita, Salina and Chanute. First, these summer data will be compared to normal. Second, the data from Summer 2009 will be compared to it's coolest and wettest predecessors.



The Air Capital averaged 77.8 degrees during Summer 2009; an even 1 degree below normal. (See Image 1) A review of the graph clearly shows that Wichita experienced a warm start to the summer by averaging an even 79.0 degrees during the month of June; 3.5 degrees above normal. This was the 15th warmest June on record. It would be the warmest month for the Summer of 2009, as average temperatures fell to 78.2 degrees in July and to 76.3 degrees in August, the 15th coolest August on record. (To compare 2009 to the 10 coolest summers on record, see Image 2.) These averages were 2.8 degrees and 3.5 degrees below normal, respectively. However, the 77.8 degree average only enabled 2009 to finish in 4-way tie for 41st coolest on record. No doubt June prevented 2009 from soaring through the ranks.

In the department of rainfall, Wichita received an even 12 inches during Summer 2009; 1.5 inches above normal and as one can tell, the rainfall was fairly evenly distributed. (Image 3) However, 2009 wasn't even close to gaining admission into the "Top 10 Wettest Summers" Fraternity, and was barely half the total (50.8%) of the "Raining King" of all summers: 2005. (Image 4)

In summation, while it was quite cool with above normal rainfall, Summer 2009 was by no means "one for the record books".

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Like Wichita, Salina had a warm start to Summer 2009, averaging 1.8 degrees above normal during the month of June. (Image 5) Then the weather REALLY COOLED OFF. The 76.6 degree average for July was a staggering 4.7 degrees below normal, enabling 2009 to finish in a tie for 6th coolest July on record. The 76.4 degree average also enabled Summer 2009 to tie 1982 for 6th coolest on record. (Image 6)

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to complications with Salina's climate history, this ranking is based on the available climate record dating to 1949 which of course does not encompass the 'Dust Bowl Era' of the 1930s. The National Weather Service in the process of extending Salina's climate record back to 1895.)

Regardless, the cooling trend continued through August, during which the average temperature was a "frosty" 4.1 degrees below normal. The 75.3 degree average made 2009 the 3rd coolest August on record. (Again, based on available data.)

Like Wichita, Salina also received above normal rainfall. The 14.44 inches measured was 2.48 inches above normal (Image 7) and made 2009 the 8th wettest summer on record. (Image 8) However, this ranking is very deceiving, especially when compared to the "Raining King" of all summers, 1993, during which a staggering 30.92 inches drenched the city. The 2009 total was only 46.7% of the historic 1993 total. Rainfall was actually very close to normal for most of the summer, but then August arrived and the skies "showered" Salina with considerable attention by dumping 5.90 inches on Schilling Field. (Image 7)

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Chanute also experienced a warm start to the summer by averaging a lucky 77.7 degrees during the month of June; 3.4 degrees above normal. This tied 1922 for the 14th warmest June on record. However, just as it appeared air conditioners were going to get prolonged workouts, much cooler weather arrived with July averaging 3.6 degrees below normal and August 3.2 degrees below normal. (Image 9) The 75.9 degree average in July made 2009 the 6th coolest July on record, while the 74.8 degree average in August was the 7th coolest on record. However, like Wichita and Salina, June prevented 2009 from soaring through the ranks of the coolest summers on record, as the 76.1 degree average ranked 16th all-time. (Image 10 compares 2009 to the 10 coolest summers in Chanute's climate history.)

In the water department, Chanute's rainfall trends were strikingly different from their Wichita and Salina cousins. Per image 11, June showered Chanute with considerable attention by soaking the town with 7.05 inches of rain; an even 2.0 inches above normal. Impressive as it was, this total was no where near gaining admission into the "Top 10 Fraternity", needing 2.43 inches to do so. The 3.70 inch total measured in July at Martin Johnson Airport was actually 0.54 inch below normal, but then August "made amends" by pouring 5.03 inches. By examining the bar graph in image 12, one quickly notices that 2009 came no where near cracking the top 10 wettest summers on record, falling 4.21 inches behind the 10th place occupant, 1959 when, for all intents and purposes, 20 inches of rain drenched Martin Johnson Airport.

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In summation, Summer 2009 was certainly cooler and wetter than normal across the Wichita County Warning Area. However, with the exception of parts of Central Kansas, namely Salina, Summer 2009 was by no means historic, but one must keep in mind that the Autumn months have been known to produce some "gully washers", as the colossal rainfalls of last September and during Halloween 1998 clearly demonstrate, so keep those umbrellas handy and be alert for road closures during flooding situations.

This story was brought to you by the National Weather Service - Wichita, Kansas.

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