May was a month of extremes in Kansas. Temperatures ranged from a high of 103 degrees F at Ashland (Clark County) on the 20th to a low of 25 degrees at Wilmore (Comanche County) on the 2nd. Many stations reported the highest temperature and the lowest temperature within two days. Windy weather continued to aggravate the dry conditions in western and central Kansas. The month ended with a widespread precipitation event. Some stations had as much in the last three days of the month as in the previous three months combined.
Despite the rain to end the month, precipitation averaged below normal for the state. The statewide average precipitation was 1.88 inches, or 42 percent of normal. The wettest division was the Southeast with an average of 3.13 inches, or 55 percent of normal. The remaining divisions are all at less than half of normal for May. For the year-to-date, all divisions are significantly below normal. Statewide, at 4.80 inches, this is the second driest start to the year on record. The driest was in 1966, when the Jan-May total was 4.16 inches.
The statewide average temperature for the month was very close to normal, at 64.3 degrees F, or just 0.8 degrees warmer than normal. The range of temperatures, however, was quite wide. There were 105 new daily record highs established, and 2 new record highs for May. Wichita recorded a high of 102 degrees on the 4th. On the other extreme, there were 75 new daily record low temperature readings set, and sub-freezing values as late as the 15th of May.
Severe weather was also a feature for the month. There were 10 tornadoes reported, but fortunately no fatalities. There were also 125 reports of hail damage and 50 reports of wind damage. Despite the lower-than-normal rainfall for the month, there were a few reports of isolated flooding. This was particularly true with the isolated heavy rains on May 11th and 12th, and again with the storm complex that moved through the state May 21st through the 25th.
Drought conditions persist across the state. No portion of the state was in near normal conditions, and the portion of the state in abnormally dry conditions continues to shrink. Nearly 45 percent of the state is now in extreme drought conditions and an additional 29 percent of the state is in severe drought. A wet start to June gives some hope that conditions will improve. The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to switch to an El Niño event by late summer, but it remains to be seen what impact will be felt. The June temperature outlook is neutral for much of the state, with warmer-than-normal temperatures expected in the southwest. The precipitation outlook calls for wetter-than-normal conditions for all but the extreme southwestern portion of the state. This does not indicate how much wetter conditions might be, and does not exclude the possibility of drier-than-normal weather in the period.
Precipitation comparison maps:
Temperature comparison maps:
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library