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Weather turns drier, stays warm


If December goes the way of November, 2012 will go down in Goodland as the driest year ever recorded.

"We're kind of going for the driest year on record," said Dave Floyd, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Goodland.

Hays, meanwhile, is working on 2012 as being one of the warmest years on record, currently standing as the third warmest through November. Only 1939 and 1934 were warmer, and then by less than a degree warmer than this year.

It's only the seventh driest on record in Hays, at least through November.

With a trace of moisture, Goodland had more rain than either Hays or Hill City, recording nothing in the month of November.

But that trace adds nothing to the yearly total of 9.02 inches.

The record, set in 1956, saw only 9.19 inches of moisture.

While Hill City has had more moisture, on a percentage basis, it's drier than Goodland.

With only 43 percent of its normal rainfall for the year, Hill City's received just 9.74 inches of moisture in 2012. Normal would be 22.21 inches.

Colby lived up to its moniker of Oasis on the Plains, but it was only with a measly 0.05 of an inch, Colby was among the few locations in northwest Kansas receiving any rain in November.

Still, with only 11.74 inches in the book this year, that's well below the average of 20.03 inches.

Hays has received 13.61 inches of precipitation so far this year, but none of it in November. Normal should be 22.11 inches.

That means Hays is 8.5 inches behind normal, based on 145 years of record keeping at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center. It's 9.14 inches behind normal based on the 30-year average, the standard of measure used by the National Weather Service.

After a relatively cool month in October, Hays has warmed back up and was more than 2 degrees warmer than normal in November.

The daytime highs actually were 8 degrees warmer than normal, but the overnight lows moderated the overall average.

Low temperatures were nearly a half-degree cooler than normal in November.

Hays actually recorded a new daytime high Nov. 21, when the temperature climbed to 75 degrees. That beat out 1974's previous record of 73 degrees.

As far as daytime highs in Hays are concerned, November 2012 is the fifth warmest on record, based on 111 years of records. November 1999 is the warmest, with an average of 66.7 degrees. This year, the average high in November was 63 degrees.

Overnight lows in Hays were in the middle of the pack, the 48th coolest since records have been maintained.

The mean temperature, however, was the 29th warmest.

Colby's daytime highs were 10 degrees warmer than normal, reaching an average of 63 degrees. The average overnight low recorded at the Northwest Kansas Research and Extension Service was 5 degrees warmer than the 25-degree average.

Goodland's race to be the driest year could be a close one, with only 0.17 of an inch of rain needed to tie the previous record.

Floyd isn't pinning too many hopes on an approaching storm system.

"I'm not too gung ho about this one," he said of the chances for rain in the Goodland area.

While the outlook for moisture from the approaching storm system isn't promising, the forecast is for sharply colder conditions, with highs remaining near freezing Sunday. Lows are expected to dip into the teens Monday morning.

There is a possibility of some snow, but where it falls and how much is uncertain.

It's been a long trend of dry, he said. The last precipitation came Oct. 24, when 0.08 of an inch fell. It was Oct. 13 before that.

And December isn't a strong month as far as moisture is concerned, with an average of only 0.45 of an inch expected.

"We are in an exceptional drought," Floyd said of conditions in the Goodland area based on the Drought Monitor developed by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Hays is in the same boat.

The region, he said, remains in a progressive pattern of storm systems, where fronts scoot across the area in quick order.

That doesn't typically mean much moisture.

"We need to get a pattern change is what we need," he said.