Extreme Heat and Dryness at Dodge City (updated 9/21/11)

Like much of western and south central Kansas, the extreme drought continued as the meteorological summer ended at Dodge City.  In addition, extreme heat experienced during the summer did not let up.  It's definitely been a record setting year at many locations, including Dodge City.

Meteorological summer includes June, July and August.  For these three months, daily high temperature records at the Dodge City airport were broken 14 times and tied 7 times.  This is a phenomenal occurrence!   There were 9 daily high temperature records broken or tied in August alone.  Since January 1st of this year, daily high temperature records were broken or tied 27 times!

The average daily temperature for the summer at Dodge City was 83.5 degrees and this is the hottest on record (since 1875), well above the normal of 77.2 degrees.

The average summer temperature at Dodge City

Hottest summers at Dodge City

The average high temperature for the summer was an astonishing 99.4 degrees, well above the previous record of 96.7 degrees set in 1934.  The normal high temperature averaged throughout the summer is 90.1 degrees.

The top 10 highest max temperatures at Dodge City for the summer

Normally during the summer we can expect around 13 or 14 days of 100 degrees or hotter at Dodge City.  However, this year that number occurred way too frequently.  As of September 6th, the high temperature reached 100 degrees on 54 days which obliterates the previous number of 42 set in 1934!  Another record?  How about the number of 90 degree days?  Yes, that was also a record, not only for the summer, but also for the year.

 number of 100 degree and hotter days at Dodge City

number 90 degree days in dodge city during the summer

Number of 90 degree days for the entire year

And it just wasn't the number of 100 degree days, it was also the number of times the mercury got to 105 degrees and hotter and 108 degrees and hotter!

 Number of 105 degree and hotter days at Dodge City

number of 108 degree days


The heat wasn't the only story for the summer.  The drought across much of the area had become exceptional across much of the area. As of August 31, the following map depicts where the drought was occurring...

drought map as of August 30 2011

However, during the month of August there was actually some decent precipitation at some locations.  The following map shows amounts provided by our Cooperative Observers, from CoCoRaHS observers and estimated from http://water.weather.gov/precip/ (click on the map for a larger version):

 Map of August precipitation

Some of the larger amounts of precipitation for August are in the table below:

                    Location                               Amount

 Hays 2.7 ENE  5.30"
 Hays 1.1 NE  4.70"
 Larned  4.59"
 Victoria 0.3 NNW  4.45"
 Hays Ag Station  4.09"
 Wakeeney 9.7 WSW  4.09"
 Hays 1.7 NW  4.06"
 Collyer 0.2 S  3.87"
 Hays 1.2 WNW  3.85"
 Schoenchen 3.5 E  3.76"
 Syracuse 7.2 WSW  3.59"
 Hays 0.5 W  3.56"
 Hays 1.8 NNW  3.43"
 Ellis  3.41"
 Wakeeney  3.37"

An even more impressive story on the dryness extends back to last fall.  From October 1, 2010 through August 31, 2011 there has only been 3.25" of precipitation measured at the observing sight 7 miles west-southwest of Sublette.  In fact many locations have had much less than 10 inches.  The following map shows the accumulated precipitation for the current water year (October 1, 2010 through August 31, 2011) - NOTE click on the map for a larger version


Or here is a map with just cities and not amounts....

Some of the amounts of precipitation for October 1, 2010 through August 31, 2011 are in the table below:

                    Location                               Amount

 Haviland 0.3 SW
 Preston 3.2 WNW
 Medicine Lodge
 Coldwater 6.7 NW
 Dodge City airport
 Dodge City 16 S
 Elkhart  5.47"
 Sublette 7 WSW

At Dodge City, the summer ended up being the driest on record (since records started in 1875).

top 10 driest summers on record at Dodge City

As of August 31 it was also the driest start to the year! The following graph shows the top five driest starts to the year.  Notice all the previous years ended up well below normal by the end of December.

driest start to the year

Comparing this year to the top driest years ever observed at Dodge City, 2011 is well behind, which does not bode well.  It will take significant precipitation the remainder of 2011 to even get close to the driest year on record which was in 1893 when only 9.97" fell.

Top driest years on record and a look at 2011


Contact Jeff A. Hutton, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with questions or comments.

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