Thursday, September 24, 2020

Update - September 24, 2020

Those that might have missed it, after quite an adventure I was able to log in a update this blog last week.  That post can be read here.  In that post I discussed the outlook for the fall, winter and into spring.  If you haven't had an opportunity to do so, please go back and read that.  One aspect I did not mention in particular, is snowfall during the season when a La Nina is present.  For Dodge City (and likely the majority of the high plains), out of the past 21 La Nina events, snowfall for the season (Sept-May) was less than normal 16 times.  But, if the La Nina was weak or moderate then 10 were less snowy that normal.  This year the La Nina will probably stay weak to moderate.  So that is about a 50/50 split!  In my "gut feeling" I said Dodge City would receive more than 20 inches (normal is 21.1").

In that same post I stressed again (I've done that a billion times) that the new pattern does not get going and established until later in the fall.  Until the first full cycle of jet stream orientation of amplitude and wave frequency completes, there really is no way to have an idea what the pattern will bring.  Again, I'm only going off a gut feeling.  

The dry fall sure seems likely though!  Hopefully there will be at least one or two systems that bring moisture, and I think there will be just that. As far as an early freeze...there will be a pretty good shot of really cold air early next week and again in early October.  It doesn't appear like a widespread freeze for the high plains.  However, we're approaching the "normal" date of the first freeze across the western high plains anyway.

During the next few weeks I'm sure a flurry of winter outlooks/forecasts will be flooding social media.  I'm sure those outlooks will be all over the place.  Many/most of these outlooks will be based completely on the fact that La Nina will be in place.  But, every La Nina is different.  Plus there are other factors that I'll look into once the pattern starts to develop that most will ignore.

I'll leave you with this.  In the past 25 years that I've lived at my location northwest of Dodge, I have NEVER seen squirrel behavior like I'm seeing this fall.  I have a ton of oak trees (not just burr).  Those squirrels have been stripping out GREEN acorns and burying them everywhere.  I have not witnessed them taking green ones before they've started drying down and turning.  It sure seems like this is occurring early.  Does this mean anything?  I can't answer that but I do know that animals sometimes have behaviors tied to the weather.  If you have a comment or idea on this behavior, leave a comment here on this blog or shoot me an email (

So, let's hope for some moisture for the winter wheat emergence.   Prospects look dismal for a while.. Here is the outlook into the first of October from the Weather Prediction Center (WPC).   Not good.  But, there should be at least some very light rain or drizzle with the first shot of cold air late Sunday or Monday.  It just won't be that much. I'm sure the WPC will update.  

Hopefully there will be a couple of chances in October.  More on that later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

He's back! Updated 9/15/2020

WOW!  What an adventure!  I got locked out of my own blog!  For some reason I could not log into this blog in early July. Shoot maybe I said something politically sensitive about weather and was banned for a while?  I tried everything including contacting; to no avail.  I thought I would just start over but then I wasn't sure how to let longtime readers know how to get to it!  Then, last week when I was checking my giant pumpkin growing blog I noticed a little checkmark in the edit page to this one once I got logged into  Eureka!  I don't know - I can't explain it. is the latest.


As expected many months ago, it was fairly likely that precipitation for 2020 would not quite get to normal for much of the high plains.  The drought that developed during the fall was expected to continue but the chances for drought improving rains were also possible.  Some areas got lucky.  Others not so much.  For 2020, here is a look at how much precipitation has been observed through 9/14/20.

And here is the percent of normal.

The drought monitor shows the improvement from recent September rains.

Ups and downs and wild swings in weather are not unusual.
  But what is certainly unusual is the highly abnormal cold that recently impacted the area for 3 days.  Temperature records were smashed!  Is this an indication of what is to be expected later this fall and winter?  Stand by….

Back to the precipitation.  At Dodge City there had never been more than 3 years in a row of above normal precipitation since records began in 1874.  At the end of 2019, the above normal precipitation year ended as the sixth in a row! For 2020 it could be the 7th year in a row IF the airport gets another 3.16 inches.  But that is not likely.





Temperatures so far for 2020 have been mostly above normal, although this summer has not been extremely hot.  However, humidity has been pretty high – especially in July and August which of course can make it feel hotter.



So, the million-dollar question.  Will the early shot of abnormally cold during early September be precursor to what to expect going into Winter?   Short answer – NO!  Again, I've written and stated numerous times that a new weather pattern develops in early October.  This pattern across the entire northern hemisphere will dictate how atmospheric systems will impact our weather during the fall, winter and following summer.  That pattern that sets up is influenced by many elements, one of which is the location and magnitude of cold and warm pockets of ocean temperatures.  Unfortunately, there is NO predictability of what that pattern will look like as of mid-September.

So, an outlook for the fall and winter is nothing more than a wild guess.  Many outlooks will focus on ONLY the equatorial Pacific water temperatures (El Nino, La Nina or both).  Using this technique often leads to a “busted” forecast. 

You may have heard that a La Nina is developing and is expected this winter.  Those using this as a sole predictor have already said dry with normal to above temperatures for this winter.   But you see, all La Nina’s are not the same, especially for the central U.S.!

For example...for southwest Kansas - out of 21 La Nina winters (Dec, Jan, Feb), 3 were wetter than normal.  The other 18 were around normal on precipitation!  None were particularly dry.  Out of those same 21 La Nina winters, 7 were warmer than normal, 11 were colder and 3 were normal.  So, using La Nina as the ONLY predictor, odds favor normal precipitation and odds favor below normal temperatures.  HOWEVER, since the pattern does not even get set up until October, making an outlook is nothing more than a wild guess!  And why do predictions only include December, January, and February!  Shoot winter for southwest Kansas can start in October and last into April!

My outlook (gut feeling and wild guess) ….

In general, the fall will be dry (but with a couple good chances for precipitation).

Snowfall for October through April will be more than 20 inches.

There will likely be several significant storms (at least one major blizzard).  Watch out for that first week of January!

Winter temperatures will average out below normal.

January will be much below normal on temperatures.

Spring may yield an up-tick in severe weather (hail, high wind, and tornadoes).

Please remember that the pattern does not get established until October.  My confidence level on that gut feeling outlook is not high. 

Unless I get locked out of the this site again, I'll try and get another update later next week.  Just in case, if I do get locked out and can't update, I'll put a message on my giant pumpkin growing blog posting.  Those not familiar with that one, go to: