Category Archives: Research

Not even the Dust Bowl was this dry in Oklahoma

Here’s a troubling story about how dry the last four months have been in Oklahoma. It hasn’t been this dry over the same period since 1921 – even dryer than the Dirty Thirties.

While it hasn’t been quite that bad in Kansas, wildfires that erupted around the state over the past several days provide stark testimony to how parched the Sunflower State is in its own right.

Coffeyville hits -22, and just south of there…..

……in Nowata, Okla., the temperature fell to -31. Pending official certification, that will be Oklahoma’s all-time record low. Nowata is just 24 miles from Coffeyville.

Earlier today, officials reported Bartlesville hit -28 — which would also break Oklahoma’s record low of -27, set in Vinita in 1905 and tied in Watts in 1930.

Ironically, Vinita hit -27 on Feb. 13, 1905. Oklahoma was one of four states to set their record lows on that date. The others:

Kansas – Lebanon, -40
Missouri – Warsaw, -40
Arkansas – Pond, -29

Record high set today for Wichita

There’s a new record high for January 28 in Wichita: 72 —- and counting.

The old mark was 69, in 1968. With plenty of sunshine and a nice breeze out of the west, the mercury may not be done climbing.

“We’re waiting to see if it’s going to make it to 73,” National Weather Service meteorologist Stephanie Dunten said shortly before 4 p.m.

Wichita went three months without dropping below 60

While Wichita had a healthy dose of 100s this past summer, the real reason 2010 went down as the hottest summer in 30 years was what happened once the sun went down.

For 95 straight days, the thermometer never dropped below 60 in Wichita. That’s the third-longest streak of its kind since records began being kept in the city in 1888, according to the National Weather Service.

Only 1922 with 98 straight days and 1980 with 96 were longer. It’s rather fitting, I’d say, that 2010 was a close third to 1980, given their places in the weather record books.

Wichita went from May 21 to August 24 without seeing the 50s this year. As recently as Sept. 22, however, the overnight low was 74.

Sept. 22, ironically, is the date for earliest freeze in Wichita history.

Hailstone appears to set a record for Kansas, weather officials say

Preliminary measurements indicate the hailstone that fell Wednesday night near Pawnee and Maize Road has the largest diameter ever recorded in Kansas, according to the National Weather Service.

The stone has a diameter of 7.75 inches, which easily surpasses the diameter of the current record holder, which fell in Coffeyville on Sept. 3, 1970. That stone had a diameter of 5.7 inches.

A task force to confirm the record will be convened next week, weather officials say. The stone fell in the 2200 block of South Milstead. Measured 15 hours after it fell, the stone was 15.5 inches in circumference and 1.1 pounds.

A record hailstone for Kansas?

National Weather Service officials are looking into whether a hailstone that fell in southwest Wichita on Wednesday night is the largest recorded in state history.

The stone, estimated at 7 inches when it was found, fell in the 2200 block of South Milstead, near Pawnee and Maize Road.

“They’re out looking at it right now,” said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the Wichita branch of the weather service.

The family that found the stone put it in a freezer, Hayes said, but did not store it in a plastic bag. As a result, some of the stone sublimated – or converted to water vapor and shrank.

It was down to 6.5 inches in diameter this morning, Hayes said, but was still 4.75 inches wide, 4 inches deep and an estimated 15 inches in length.

“That’s big,” Hayes said.

The record circumference for a hailstone in Kansas is 17.5 inches, held by the legendary Coffeyville hailstone that fell September 3, 1970.

South Dakota hail stone confirmed as largest – and heaviest – in U.S. history

It’s official: the hailstone that fell in Vivian, South Dakota, on July 23 during a strong thunderstorm has been declared the largest in diameter and heaviest ever recorded in the United States.

NOAA’s National Climate Extremes Committee issued that ruling after confirming the measurements. The hailstone, discovered by Vivian resident Les Scott, is 8.0 inches in diameter and weighs 1.9375 pounds (1 pound, 15 ounces) with a circumference of 18.62 inches.

These measurements displace the previous hailstone record for weight, 1.67 pounds for a stone in Coffeyville in 1970. They also surpass the record for diameter, which was 7 inches for a hailstone found in Aurora, Neb., in 2003.

The Aurora hailstone still holds the record for circumference of 18.75 inches.

The world record heaviest hailstone was in the Gopalganj District of Bangladesh on April 14, 1986. The stone weighed 2.25 lb.

Wichita’s never had a winter like this

For the first time since records began being kept in the city’s infancy, Wichita is about to go through a winter where the temperature never touched 60.

That’s never happened, according to National Weather Service temperature records dating back to 1888, 16 years after Wichita was incorporated. The agency’s “meteorological winter” stretches from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, and the thermometer has reached 60 at least once during that period for the past 122 years.

But not this year.

Wichita came close once, hitting 59 on Jan. 22. But the city hasn’t even hit 50 very often this winter: only 12 times since Dec. 1.

The winters of 1928-29 and 1974-75 were also persistently cold, hitting 60 just once – in December. And the winter of 1992-93 had one 60 degree day – in February.

But most Wichita winters include warm spells that offer residents an interlude from the cold. It’s what makes the season more tolerable, longtime residents will tell you.

This winter hasn’t had a single 60, and the forecast for the rest of February suggests the mercury won’t climb near that in Wichita.

There haven’t been many 50s this winter: 12 out of 85, or less than 15%.

No wonder so many folks are aching for spring.

Storm spotter training schedule set

I consider it one of the early signs of the coming spring: the release of the National Weather Service storm spotter training class schedule.

It means spring can’t be that far away.

The full schedule of classes in southern and southeast Kansas can be found here.

Classes in the Wichita metropolitan area will be held March 3 in Wellington, March 9 in Wichita, and March 11 in Newton and El Dorado.

The Wichita class will be held at 7 p.m. at Northwest High School.

Snapshots of a stormy Kansas spring

Here’s the next installment of photos submitted to my blog by readers. Spring in Kansas means thunderstorms – and, often, tornadoes.

Sure enough, early in the month thunderstorms rolled through the Wichita metropolitan area.


A tornado damaged a house and property near Lake Afton early in the month, setting off sirens countywide.


A tornado near Douglass damaged a home and farmstead in Butler County. Several brief touchdowns were reported with that storm system.