2011 Climate Summary for Topeka
2011 was notable for a snowy beginning, a hot and dry middle, and a wet end. The total snowfall measured was the fifth highest amount in the 124 complete years of data on record for Topeka. The summer season was the third hottest, only cooler than the Dust Bowl years of 1934 and 1936. The total precipitation that fell in November and December was the third highest measured for this period. This precipitation helped push the year's total to near the middle of the rankings in annual precipitation.
The majority of the year's snowfall occured from just four storms -- all in the first several weeks of the year. Three of them placed in the top 20 for the deepest snow to fall in one calendar day. These were February 1 with 9.1 inches, January 19 with 8.7 inches, and January 10 with 7.9 inches. The February 1 snow was accompanied by winds gusting over 30 MPH which caused considerable drifting of the snow and winch chill values of -10. The fourth snow event, February 24, piled up 5.5 inches in only a few hours' time as it was accompanied by thunder. The total snowfall for these months placed it as the second snowiest January-Feburary period on record, trailing only 1993. Another 2.6 inches of snow accumulated in March, putting the January-February-March period at the third highest such period behind 1912 and 1960. The fall and early winter months of the year only contributed 0.1 inches of snowfall to the yearly total. Only six other years have had less snowfall during this period.
Snowfall of January 19, 2011
Snowfall of January 31 - February 1, 2011
Strong and persistent upper level high pressure allowed the summer months to be very hot. The average temperature for June was the eighth hottest on record, with July and August values ranking as the sixth and thirteenth hottest such months, respectively. In fact, July was the seventh hottest month on record and the hottest month since July 1980. Temperatures reached triple digits for ten consecutive days in July. Heat indices often reached 105 to 110 degrees. On July 10, the heat index topped out at 118. Only one higher heat index value has been measured in Topeka since at least 1978. The average of the daily low temperatures of July was also record-breaking in that no month has had its average low be any warmer. The mercury reached 112 degrees on August 2. Only three days on record had temperatures above this value. The last time it was hotter was nearly 75 years ago. High temperatures reached at least 90 degrees on half of the days of June. Precipitation was also on the light side during this period and on into the fall. The total amount received from June through October was the eighth driest on record, and combined with the intense heat to bring moderate drought conditions to the city.
June-July-August Heat Statistics
The spring and summer months brought severe weather to Topeka. Most notable was very large hail and a couple brief and weak tornadoes touching down in portions of the city in the early evening of May 21 as a supercell thunderstorm traversed the city. The largest hail, some stones as large as five inches in diameter, occured in mainly northern portions of Topeka, while the tornadoes impacted southern sections. Only minor damage occured with the tornadoes. Strong westerly winds, estimated at 80 MPH, affected portions of the city on the evening of April 3 as a supercell thunderstorm moved just north of Topeka. Widespread winds of 50 to 70 MPH blasted the city for nearly 30 minutes in the late evening of August 18 as a line of thunderstorms plunged south out of Nebraska.
Reflectivity and Storm-Relative Velocity Imagery from May 21, 2011
May 21 Tornado near Washburn Rural High School Concession Stand at Washburn Rural Baseball Field
May 21 Tornado Damage Paths May 21 Hailstone in Central Topeka
Reflectivity Imagery April 3, 2011
Reflectivity Image August 18, 2011
A detailed listing of climate data for 2011 can be found here.