October 22nd to 31st: Dry and windy conditions prevailed over the past week as a northwest flow regime brought several dry cold fronts across the region. Temperatures were on a roller coaster with alternate warming and cooling ahead of and behind each front.
After the big rain of Saturday, October 21st, conditions were pleasant until the first in the series of dry cold fronts pushed through on Monday, October 23rd. The cold air lagged behind the front as the high Monday, as on Sunday, reached the upper 60s. However gusty northwest winds behind the midday frontal passage reached up to 41 MPH at the Lawrence Airport – enough to buffet cars around pretty good on the highways.
Tuesday, October 24th, was quite windy and much cooler as ‘cold air advection’ pushed across the local area in ernest. The high reached 57 degrees under sunny skies. The maximum sustained wind (average over two minutes) was 36 MPH at the airport with a peak gust of 44 MPH. This was windy enough to fell a few medium to large tree branches across town and lots of smaller branches, twigs and leaves, as some of the gusts seemed to arrive in strong little whirl winds. With an average wind for the entire day of 17.3 MPH, this was the windiest day of the month.
The morning of the 25th brought the first freezing temperature of the season to the Lawrence Airport, where the low was 32 degrees out on the Kansas River flood plain. However, at my residence in southwest Lawrence, the morning low was a milder 37 degrees. Temperatures rebounded Wednesday afternoon however with a high of 71 at the airport and 72 at my residence. Skies were clear once again with generally light west winds.
On Thursday, the 26th, the high reached a balmy 72 at the Lawrence Airport and 70 at my residence ahead of the next rapidly advancing cold front. Late in the day, following a second dry cold front passage, northwest winds gusted up to 45 MPH at the airport, the strongest wind recorded the entire month. Peak sustained winds were 35 MPH. As with the previous front, the cold air lagged behind the initial frontal passage.
Friday, the 27th was another cool, blustery day behind the front that pushed in the previous evening. The morning low was in the mid 30s winds with the afternoon high only reaching into the mid 40s. Blustery northwest winds continued. Winds managed a peak gust of 40 MPH at the Lawrence airport with a maximum sustained wind of 33 MPH. The winds died down rapidly in the evening, allowing for strong radiational cooling conditions Friday night. By midnight the temperature dropped to 31 at the airport (35 at my residence). The Saturday morning low at the airport reached 23 degrees (28 at my home weather station in southwest Lawrence). On Saturday afternoon, the high only recovered to 51 degrees at both the airport and my home.
Sunday, the 29th was more pleasant with temperatures rebounding into the mid to upper 60s with just a few mid and high level clouds, as seen below:
On Sunday night, the third in the series of dry cold fronts moved in, bringing in gusty winds and cooler temperatures for Monday.
The temperature on Monday, October 30th, more or less flatlined with a morning low of 48 and afternoon high of 53. Northwest winds gusted to 38 MPH at the Lawrence Airport with a maximum sustained wind of 30 MPH. Winds were decreasing Monday evening ahead of another cold night as strong radiational cooling ensued. This lead to a very cool day on Halloween.
On the morning of the 31st, strong radiational clearing under clear skies and calm winds allowed the overnight low to drop to 21 degrees at the airport. A thick deck of mid and high level clouds then moved across for the daytime hours. The overcast combined with high pressure at the surface allowed a minimal recovery from the cold overnight low to an afternoon high of only 38 degrees. A few flakes of snow fell around town in the afternoon but not enough to wet the streets. Topeka received a few tenths of an inch of snowfall. However, the scattered accumulating light snow swaths in the area missed Lawrence. Winds were light out of the southeast. The coldest day of the month, the deviation from average for October 31st was 21 degrees below normal.