December was wetter-than-normal across most of Kansas, but the precipitation fell mostly at the beginning and end of the month. With over 600 reports, the average amount on the 1st of December was 0.69 inches; for the 27th, the second large event, the average amount was 1.26. State-wide average precipitation for December was 2.22 inches, or 232 percent of normal. The Southwest Division was the driest with an average of 1.49 inches. That is a surplus of 0.82 inches, or 230 percent of normal. The Northwest Division had the greatest percent of normal at 320 percent and an average precipitation of 1.90 inches.
The highest 24-hour rainfall total for a National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative station was 2.95 inches at Hugoton, Stevens County, on the 26th. The greatest 24-hour rainfall total for a Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network station 3.20 inches at Kingman 8.1 SSE, Kingman County, on the 27th. The greatest monthly precipitation totals for December were: 5.91 inches at Lenora, Norton County (NWS) and 4.76 inches at Hunter 2.1 NNW, Mitchell County. Not all precipitation was in the form of rainfall. A total of 207 stations reported snowfall in December, with monthly totals ranging from trace amounts in eastern Kansas to 15.5 inches at the CoCoRaHS station of Traer 2.5 NNW, Decatur County.
Despite some cool periods, December temperatures were warmer-than-normal. State-wide average temperature for the month was 33.7 degrees F, which is 2.3 degrees warmer-than-normal. All divisions were warmer-than-normal. The Northeast Division had the largest departure, with an average of 33.3 degrees F, or 3.5 degrees warmer-than-normal. The Southwest Division came closest to normal with an average of 33.8 degrees F or 1.1 degrees warmer-than-normal. The variability was evident in the range of temperatures. The warmest maximum temperature was 67 degrees F at Richfield 1NE, Morton County, on the 22nd. The coldest minimum temperature at a NWS station was -1 degrees F, recorded at Dresden, Norton Dam on the 30th and at Tuttle Creek Lake on 31st. The coldest reading at a Kansas Mesonet station was -3.6 degrees F recorded at the Grant County station near Ulysses on the 31st.
Severe weather for December
Severe storm reports were limited in Kansas during December. There were no reports of hail, wind or tornadoes. Severe winter weather was the main feature for the month, with blizzard-conditions across most of the western areas of the state on the 26th and 27th. Sadly, there was one fatality when a stranded motorist died from exposure.
Kansas is drought free!
Despite the warmer-than-normal temperatures, the heavier-than-normal precipitation alleviated the remaining abnormally dry conditions across Kansas. Kansas is now 100% drought-free. The January precipitation outlook is neutral to the east, with increased chances of above-normal precipitation across the west. Given the low normal precipitation at this time of the year, changes in conditions are likely to be slow. The temperature outlook is also neutral across the state.
Mary Knapp, Assistant State Climatologist and Weather Data Library