Chance Hayes, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Wichita, was the guest speaker at Saturday’s 66th annual Marion County Conservation District dinner.
For those attending the dinner who might have thought this year’s warmer temperatures are not normal, Hayes offered statistics to show that this year is close to 30-year average from 1982 through 2012.
“In 1991, the average temperature was 56.5 degrees, which is 13 degrees higher than it is now,” he said.
Hayes also compared temperatures from last year to this year.
“Last year’s average low was 30.8 degrees compared to this year’s low of 43.1, making it 8.6 degrees lower last year,” he said.
He also talked about some of the highest temperatures during 2011, including last year’s record-breaking 110 degrees on July 28. Several days registered a high 108 and 109.
“The most precipitation in one day was recorded April 24, 2008, with 5.87 inches of rainfall,” he said.
Hayes said he believes this area has seen the worst of the drought this year, although recent rains have brought relief.
“Marion County is almost out of the drought area because we are getting relief from recent precipitation,” he said.
Farmers might also consider some statistics dealing with temperatures below 32 degrees.
Hayes said when April 12 arrives this spring, there’s a 100 percent chance that temperatures will not fall below 32 degrees until late 2012.
“This would be a safe time for planting,” he said.
The first freeze this year, according to averages, is Oct. 17.
In his three-month outlook from March through May, Hayes predicted a 40 percent chance for temperatures to be above normal.
“Rainfall has an equal chance of being 50-50,” he said. “We could get 50 percent more rain or 50 percent less rain (compared to the average amount).”
He said temperatures for June and July have a 50-50 chance of being higher or lower than normal.
Overall, the temperatures are “getting into more normalcy” this year, he said.
Another important factor for farmers to consider is using “CoCoRaHs,” which means Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Hayes described it as a volunteer network that observes rain, snow and hail and reports it daily on the website.
“These reports fill in the gaps between official weather sites,” he said. “It is important because these numbers go to Colorado State (University) and are used by the weather office, the government and insurance agents.”
The weather service has only a set number of observers and they report normal precipitation at their locations.
“Even though you are going to be 10 inches below normal, it doesn’t matter, because what is reported is official,” he said.
If an area has CocoRaHs, an insurance agent can’t dispute the observer’s data, he said. For more information about volunteering, visit the Web site: cocorahs.org, or talk to someone at the Marion County Conservation District office.
In addition to discussing risk signals in the event of severe weather, Hayes highlighted some of the areas people might want to review on the NWS website: weather.gov/wichita.
Specifically, he suggested clicking on “hazardous weather outlook” on the left-hand side of the page. It provides a map and snapshot of the risk in particular areas, with a risk rating of zero to a five.
By going to the “forecast,” Hayes said, people can get an hour-by-hour update.
“If you need to know when winds will die down to burn or spray, or you want to go on a picnic, you can get that forecast hour-by-hour,” he said.