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Mother Nature eases up in August

9/6/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

August looked a bit closer to normal, even with a couple record lows thrown in for good measure.

But that wasn't enough to erase a series of earlier missteps by Mother Nature this year, most notably the high heat and lower-than-normal rainfall, according to data maintained by the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center at the south end of Hays.

With 3.37 inches in the gauge, August was the wettest month of the year. Yet, it simply wasn't enough rain to erase what is now a 6-inch deficit.

So far this year, just 11.6 inches of precipitation have been recorded, the 15th driest on record.

Seasonal rainfall is perhaps the most troubling, with April through August -- much of the growing season -- precipitation only amounting to 8.9 inches, the seventh driest on record.

And while temperatures moderated slightly in August -- or seemed to -- 2012 is still the hottest year on record.

The average temperature of 70.4 degrees since the first of the year is a half-degree hotter than the next hottest, the 69.9 degrees set in 1934.

On average, August was slightly less than a degree below the long-term normal. The mean temperature for August was 76.7 degrees, shy of the average of 77.6 degrees.

That cooler-than-normal average is a result of a slightly warmer-than-normal average high temperature and a markedly lower-than-normal low.

The average minimum temperature in August was 61.8 degrees, 2.3 degrees below normal. The average high last month was 91.7 degrees.

Record lows were recorded Aug. 17 and 20. The Aug. 17 low was 51 degrees, breaking the previous record of 54 set in 1919 and 1920. The Aug. 20 low was 48 degrees, breaking the previous record of 49 set in 1950.

Temperatures climbed above 100 only three times in August, but remained in the 90s on 18 other days.

Despite the high heat this year, temperatures have topped 100 degrees only 37 times.

That's a far cry from the all-time record of 54 in 1936 and seven fewer than last year.

Goodland, Hill City and Colby haven't had it any easier, although temperatures have been a bit milder.

In Goodland, the average high in August was 90.7 degrees, Hill City was 92.5 degrees and Colby 91 degrees. Lows were 58.4 in Goodland, 60.7 in Hill City and 58 in Colby.

Rainfall was mixed, with 0.91 of an inch at Colby, 0.9 at Goodland and 1.27 at Hill City.

The Goodland rainfall in August was 1.8 inches below normal while Hill Ctiy's was 1.27 inches below normal.

For the year, only 9.67 inches of precipitation has been recorded at the Northwest Kansas Research-Extension Center near Colby.