Wichita’s warm, dry January earns place in record books

It’s been so warm in Wichita this January that only one day saw the high temperature stay below freezing.

It’s been so dry in Wichita this month that measurable precipitation fell on just one day – and that was only .03 inches on January 24.

So it should come as no surprise that the month is poised to enter the record books in both categories. Based on forecast highs and lows through January 31, Wichita’s anticipated average monthly temperature will be 37.9 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That’s 5.8 degrees above the normal average monthly temperature for January, which is 32.1 degrees. That would rank as the tenth highest average temperature for January in Wichita since records began in 1888.

This year will tie for the third driest January on record with 1994, according to weather service data. Only .02 fell in 1911, 1923 and 1961. No precipitation fell at all in January in 1914, 1919 and 1986.

Less than half an inch of snow has fallen in Wichita since Dec. 1. Wichita is more than 8 inches below normal for snowfall so far this winter.

The warm, dry month can’t be blamed on a stagnant weather pattern, weather service meteorologist Kevin Darmofal said. Fronts have been rolling through the Great Plains every few days, he said.

“We just don’t have the moisture” coming up from the Gulf of Mexico, he said. “It’s been pretty much cut off, or it gets shunted off to the east of us before it gets here.”

That pattern may finally break down by the end of the week, he said, when rain – and maybe some snow – is possible this weekend in the Wichita area.