May of 2013 ended a month of extremes for Dodge City and southwest Kansas. The month started out with very cold temperatures and snow! The 1.0 inches of snow that fell at the airport late on the 1st and into the 2nd was only the fourth time in recorded history at Dodge City that measurable snow has fallen in May. In fact it was also the most ever recorded. There was 0.7 inches measured on May 5, 1915; 0.8 inches on May 3, 1978; and 0.3 inches on May 4, 1979. For the season there was 26.7 inches measured at the airport, which was above normal.
Temperatures started out very chilly. For the first five days of the month the average daily temperature was only 45.3 degrees which was the 3rd coldest start for May in Dodge City. The lowest temperature during this stretch was 25 degrees recorded on the 3rd, and the last freezing temperature was on the 5th.
By mid-month summer made an appearance. On the 18th the morning low was a warm 68 degrees, which tied a record high minimum, and the high for the day was a sweltering 102 degrees. That temperature tied the record high for the day. Another 100 degree reading was recorded on the 27th. Only three other years in recorded history at Dodge City have two or more days with temperatures of 100 or higher occurred in the month of May. There were three such events in 1996, two in 2011 and two in 2012. On average a 100 degree day in May at Dodge City happens once every 12 years. The average temperature for the entire month was 65.0 degrees which was 0.8 degrees above normal. For the month there were 6 record temperatures tied or set.
Precipitation was variable across Ford county ranging from ½ to 1 ½ inches with isolated spots picking up around 2 inches. At the airport there was 0.91 inches, which was 1.94 inches below normal. This was the 17th driest May on record at Dodge City. It is interesting that only 4 out of the last 16 Mays have been above normal.
For the spring months of March, April and May, only 2.05 inches was recorded at the Dodge City airport while the average is 6.26 inches. This spring ends as the 4th driest on record at Dodge City. This statistic certainly illustrates the drought conditions that persist. But not too far to the east conditions are extremely different with standing water and lush green vegetation observed.
Another extreme in the weather that was observed in May was a few cases of very dry air that resulted from low moisture content in the atmosphere and hot temperatures. At the Dodge City airport the relative humidity at 5 PM on 18 May was 5.6% and remained below 10% until 630 PM. On 27 May the RH dropped below 10% around 3 PM and reached 4.6% at 552 PM. These are exceptionally low values for May.
For the first time in 10 months the average wind speed was above normal. The average daily wind at Dodge City for May was 14.3 MPH, slightly above the climatological normal of 14.0 MPH. The strongest wind for the month occurred on the 8th when a gust reached 60 MPH.