Early Start to Summer Heat Brings Memories of the 30's, 50's and 80's
The Setup -
Back in March of this year, the Ozarks saw the warmest month on record. This occurred throughout much of the Midwest including the Missouri Ozarks and southeast Kansas as monthly average temperatures ranged from 10 to over 14 degrees above normal. The average temperatures at Springfield and Joplin were so warm in March, that the monthly average temperature at both would have been warmer than 75% of the warmest Aprils on record. Long-standing records were broken that had stood from the very warm March of 1910.
From March into April, the region saw a streak of 26 days of above normal low temperatures at Springfield, Mo. The streak lasted 26 days from March 11th through April 6th. The only longer period recorded occurred from December 2nd to December 30th, 1889.
May continued the trend and was one of the warmest months on record across the Missouri Ozarks and southeast Kansas. Average daily temperatures ranged from 4 to 7 degrees above normal with all 4 climate stations in the top 10 warmest on record and 3 of the 4 in the top 5. Dry conditions also persisted during the month with below normal precipitation across the area. South central Missouri was the driest and resulted in D1 drought conditions. West Plains ranked in the top 5 driest Mays on record. There were 26 temperature records from the 4 ASOS climate stations for the month.
We have developed a table for more information on - How Frequently Do 100 Degree Temperatures Occur in Springfield.
June 2012 -
A persistent ridge of high pressure developed by the middle of June and became centered over the Plains. This led to temperatures climbing into the 95 to 105 degree range across much of the region. Through the last week of June, there have been limited breaks in the consistently hot temperatures with several record highs being tied or exceeded across the Ozarks.
In addition to the extreme heat, the high pressure over the region has continued to suppress rainfall. For the month, area reporting stations are recording rainfall from 1 to 4 inches below normal. Combining this with the below normal rainfall from May, the ground has become quite dry. This has resulted in Moderate (D1) to Severe (D2) drought conditions to begin to affect portions of the Ozarks.
The concern at this stage of summer is that the two months of the year that are wettest for the Ozarks, May and June, have been significantly dry. As the region heads into the summer months where rainfall is much less prominent, concern is growing that drought, wild fire, lake level and agricultural conditions will worsen.
To report impacts of growing drought conditions go to http://droughtreporter.unl.edu/.
Click Here for the latest Drought Statement for the Ozarks
Moving into Summer -
The upper level ridge of high pressure is expected to remain over the center on the country going into July. As a result, temperatures will likely respond by remaining above normal. This has been indicated by the forecast for July by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC).
Going into July, the chances for temperatures to remain above normal through the month are expected to remain enhanced. In addition, precipitation probabilities will lean more to the below normal side.
The outlook through the summer, from July - August, also indicates enhanced probabilities the above normal temperatures will continue. While this does not say that the region will not cool and be cooler than normal, the chances right now are weighted more heavily towards warmer than normal conditions. The precipitation probabilities look to be equally possible between above, near and below normal. With this said, the summer months remain some of the driest and even receiving normal rainfall, around 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches per month for most locations, would likely not be sufficient to alleviate the current dry conditions.
For more information on the current outlooks, go to the Climate Prediction Centers page.
Here is the Drought Decision Support Page for our office.
A Look back at Historic Conditions -
Temperatures this June have been on a slow rise and forecasts indicate that the temperatures are expected to continue to climb. What we begin to ask is, how far will they climb? When will we see more rain? Has it been like this in the past? The answer to the first two questions can be found in much of the information already provide in this story along with the current forecast.
As for the last question, some of the answer can be found in the chart to the right. There have been similar years in the past that have seen similar weather conditions across the Ozarks. Some of these years may cause some concern however. Looking back through 1888, when records began for Springfield, MO., the last time that temperatures climbed into the triple digits occurred in 1963 when the temperature reached 100. However, on June 28th, 2012, the temperature reached 101 which last occurred back in 1954 and only previously twice in 1953 & 1936. These years will likely bring back memories of very hot summers and droughts. Remember the Dust Bowl Years of the 30's?
But just because it is hot does it mean it's dry too? Since March of this year, limited amounts of rainfall have occurred across the Ozarks. The overall rainfall deficit was over 3 inches for the month of June, and over 7 inches from January through the end of June. Looking at some historical data, similar conditions were seen in 2011, 1954 & 1936, all significantly hot and dry years. Looking ahead into the months of July and August of those past years, shows little signal for wet conditions to occur.
A comparison has been made to conditions similar to the drought of 1988 across the state of Missouri and portions of southeastern Kansas, where much of the region saw significant impacts due to limited rainfall and hot temperatures. If historical temperature and precipitation data is an indication, though this does not always work as a comparison due to differing weather patterns year to year, the conditions that may occur going forward may be more reminiscent of the 30's and 50's.