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Norton temperatures bump Hill City from record book

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Sorry Hill City, you weren't the nation's hot spot two days in a row.

Unfortunately, on June 27 -- while Hill City residents suffered through a second day of 115-degree heat -- the temperature hit 118 degrees at two locations in Norton. One was below the dam holding back Keith Sebelius Reservoir, its water levels falling almost daily, while the other was 9 miles southeast of Norton.

That's only 3 degrees less than the all-time high recorded in Kansas, a record-setting 121 degrees set July 24, 1936, at Alton in Osborne County.

Hill City's double hit of 115 degrees brought with it plenty of attention, as media outlets -- including the New York Times -- focused on the community and how its residents were coping.

Those 115-degree readings June 26 and 27 were the highest temperatures ever recorded in the month of June, breaking an old record of 113 set in 1946.

Elsewhere across northwest Kansas, temperatures climbed past the century mark and stayed there for days.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's been little rain to quench the heat.

Eleven miles northeast of WaKeeney, only 4.2 inches has fallen from January through June. That's 40 percent of normal.

Hill City, with all its heat, has only registered 44 percent of normal -- 4.92 inches compared to the 11.26 inches it normally would receive.

While there's supposed to be some moderation in temperatures, the long-term outlook isn't promising.

July's outlook for temperatures is expected to be above normal, while there's an equal chance for near normal precipitation.

Temperatures should remain above normal through September, with precipitation too close to call.