Purchase photos

Small move makes big difference

8/10/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynew.snet

There's just something about Kansas weather that makes it so unique.

That's why timing is everything when it comes to keeping weather records, especially when some of them date back nearly 150 years -- back when the focus was on fighting Indians as the frontier was being opened.

Today, the focus at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center, where records are maintained, is on agricultural research -- boosting the performance of wheat, milo or cattle.

In 1868, when the first precipitation records started being kept, Fort Hays then was garrisoned by soldiers, whose duty it was to keep the Smoky Hill Trail and the Kansas Pacific Railway safe from Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian attacks.

That's a long way of saying even the slightest change will alter history, at least as far as weather records are concerned.

Slight changes made early this month as a result of new personnel at the research center resulted in temperatures and rainfall totals being tied to the day the readings were taken.

In the past, readings have been date-corrected to reflect when highs and lows actually occurred.

As a result, some of the new records recorded in July went down in the record books on the wrong day.

They've since been corrected.

For example, record low highs were recorded two days in July -- when daytime temperatures cooled dramatically -- on July 16 and 17.

They had been plugged in on the days the readings were taken.

At the research center, reading are taken at 9 a.m. when daylight savings time is in effect, and at 8 a.m. when standard time returns.

This year, lows of 62 on July 16 set a new record, while the 65-degree reading the next day also set a new record.

Not only were those records corrected, but new records were determined.

On July 15, for example, the low of 50 degrees broke the old record of 53 degrees set in 1927.

Also, on July 17, the 8 a.m. reading of 57 degrees -- not a new record as far as lows are concerned -- was a new low as far as the 9 a.m. readings are concerned.

Shifting the temperatures made slight changes in average temperatures for the month.

The average high for July changed to 88 degrees, up only slightly. That's nearly 5 degrees less than normal.

While the average low didn't change at all, the mean dropped by a tenth of 1 degree to 75.9 degrees -- 3.4 degrees below normal.