Heavy rains, high winds buffet area counties in September
By MIKE CORN
September was anything but normal -- as far as the weather goes -- especially for people living in the western-most reaches of northwest Kansas.
There, heavy rains fell, the winds blew and temperatures proved fall has arrived.
In the Hays area, the weather was relatively mundane, although temperatures on two days in September matched record highs.
Rainfall in the Hays area was ahead of normal, but not by enough to erase the year-long deficit.
The most striking weather, however, fell to Wallace, Sherman and Cheyenne counties.
There, heavy rain fell -- boosting the threat of flash floods. But in a region in dire need of moisture, the floods were more of a no-show.
Goodland, however, recorded a 100-year rainfall event, receiving 4.85 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
For the month, the National Weather Service office in Goodland reported 6.49 inches of rain. That's 5.27 inches more than normal, but even that wasn't enough to erase the deficit.
Today, with 15.28 inches of precipitation for the year, Goodland remains 1.84 inches below normal.
Hill City recorded just 2.87 inches of rain in September, and while that's 0.99 of an inch more than normal, the community remains 3.95 inches below normal.
At the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center in Hays, 2.98 inches of rain fell in seven measurable rainfall events. That's 0.93 of an inch more than normal, but Hays remains 0.88 inches behind normal. So far this year, Hays has received 19.33 inches of precipitation.
At the Northwest Research and Extension Center in Colby, rainfall in September stood at 3.71 inches, 2.61 of that falling on a single day.
Temperatures throughout the region were relatively mild, although Hays matched two previous highs.
The Sept. 8 high of 102 matched the previous high set in 1931, and a high of 95 on Sept. 26 equaled the high set in 1904, 1938 and again in 1971.
In Hays, the mean temperature of 72.2 degrees was sharply higher than the average of 68.6 degrees.
Despite the rain and the relatively mild temperatures, the month ended with strong winds that sent blowing dust across the western tier of counties, forcing highway closures and causing accidents.
While the strongest winds were reported across the state line in Colorado, conditions were difficult from Greeley County north into Cheyenne County.
Wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph were reported Sept. 23 in Sherman, Wallace and Greeley counties.
At the Sherman-Wallace county line, law enforcement reported being unable to see across the road because of the intensity of the blowing dust, the National Weather Service reported.
While September was fairly wild, October has started out calm.
Still, there's a chance for sharply cooler temperatures later this week and into the first of next week.
Already, the National Weather Service office in Hastings, Neb., is detailing information about the prospects of a frost as early as Sunday morning.
Kansas cities in the Hastings forecast area typically see the first frost in late September to the first week in October.
In Hays, the average date of the first fall frost is Oct. 14, although it's been known to happen as early as Sept. 17 and as late as Nov. 10.
In Colby and Goodland, the average first frost of the year is Oct. 4.