Unpredictable weather is not unusual in Kansas, but the past weekend’s weather seemed a little more unpredictable than most.
A tornado was spotted 5 miles northeast of Harper, snow fell in Cheyenne County in the far northwest corner of Kansas, and foggy rain and mist occurred throughout much of the rest of the state, with temperatures in the mid to upper 50s.
Garden City saw scattered showers to go with the fog and mist, but the National Weather Service rain meter at the airport only recorded 1/100th of an inch for the first precipitation event of December.
John Finch, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dodge City, said the fog was caused by several days of air blowing up from the Gulf of Mexico. Then the upper-level storm system blew through, stirring up varied weather results in the state.
Storm systems generally come out of the west off the Pacific, Finch explained. If the storm line stays to the south, then the weather here turns wintry and there’s snow, but if it strays north, it usually just means mostly wind and little precipitation. In this case, it passed directly over, to slightly south.
“If it had moved further south, we might have gotten some snow,” Finch said. He added that the state normally doesn’t have tornadoes this time of year. “That’s pretty rare.”
Average temperatures were in the mid 50s, and the dew point was 55.
“There wasn’t a big difference between the temperatures and the dew points, so the humidity was really high,” Finch said. “We had some cold air at upper levels, and warm moist air down at the ground, and so you combine those two, that is why there was severe weather over to the east of us.”
As far as the drought, eastern Finney County currently is rated D1, which is abnormally dry, while the western part is D2, which is moderately dry. Further south, in Stevens and Morton counties, conditions are D3, which is extreme drought. Finch said conditions in 2012 were D4 in the Finney County area, so things there are moving in a better direction.
He added that the weather service has 102 years of records at Dodge City, and that he believes it all averages out over time.
“Some years are dry, some years are wet,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have another wet spring and summer.”
In the forecast ahead, there are only slight chances of precipitation, however. Wednesday night, the forecast calls for a 20- to 25-percent chance for freezing drizzle, while Thursday, chances rise slightly to 25 or 30 percent for some snow or freezing drizzle, while Friday’s chances are slight.