January 2018 Near Normal – Cold!

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January 1st at 4:30 PM:  Clinton Lake finally froze over by New Years day following a low of 9 below zero and a high of 13 – the coldest day of the month.

Temperature: While January may have seemed exceptionally cold, and it was at times, the monthly mean temperature was only 1.1 degrees below normal. The average daily high was 40.3 compared to a normal of 39.9 degrees. The average daily low was 16.2 compared to normal of 18.6 degrees.

Ongoing Cold Snap: By New Years Day, the local area was already two-thirds of the way through a 15-day long cold spell. Over the course of the cold snap, lasting from December 23rd through January 6th, the average daily high was 25 and the average daily low 6 resulting in a mean temperature through the period of 15.7 degrees.

New Years Day Blues: New Years Day was a good time to stay in bed as the morning low bottomed out at 9 below zero, our coldest temperature of the month. Despite clear skies and blindingly bright sunshine, the maximum temperature on New Years only reached 13 degrees. This left us with a mean temperature of 2, marking our coldest overall day of the month as well. As the center of the arctic high-pressure area moved overhead, the barometric pressure rose to an astonishing 30.86 inches on New Years, the highest barometer reading of the month.

New Years Eve to New Years day was also the timeframe during which Clinton Lake froze over solid – with the exception of a small waterfowl landing area near the dam. The surface of the lake then remained mostly frozen for the duration of the month.

Brief Thaw and Most Significant Precipitation Event: The long cold spell finally broke from the 7th through the 10th of January.  In fact, three of these days reached into the 50s, maxing out at 55 on the 10th. This surge of warmer air was due to the one significant storm system that crossed drought-stricken California during the month of January. Interestingly, this was the same weather system that brought the deadly mudslides and debris flow through Montecito, California, during the pre-dawn hours of January 9th.

Exactly 48 hours later, on January 11th, this system managed to bring 54 hundredths of average precipitation across Lawrence between 2:30 AM and 7:00 AM. This marked our most significant precipitation event of the month. The tail end of this system ended with a few tenths of an inch of freezing rain and snow from about 6 to 7 AM as a strong surge of arctic air swept in behind the departing storm system. This quickly brought daytime temperatures into the teens on northwest winds gusting up to 43 MPH, marking the beginning or our second major cold spell of the month.

Second Cold Snap: The second cold spell also brought a few exceptionally cold days. Lows of 7 below zero were recorded at the airport on the 16th and 17th. On the 16th, a high of 13 degrees matched the maximum reading of New Years Day while the daily mean temperature was only one degree above that of our coldest day of the month.  As the arctic high moved overhead on the 16th, the maximum barometric pressure reached a very high 30.75 inches, again almost matching that of January 1st.  Over the 6 full days of this cold spell (January 12th to January 17th), the average daily high was 25 and the average daily low 4, resulting in a daily mean of 14.3 degrees.

January Thunderstorm Event: During the late evening of the 21st, a potent little weather system from the southwest brought unusual January thunderstorms to the area. A couple of small storm cells moved along the same narrow path from the south-southwest, mainly between Lawrence and Eudora, providing a vivid nighttime lightning display over the Lawrence area for several hours. One of our volunteer observers on the east side of town received 28 hundredths from these storms. Reports from the rest of Lawrence ranged from 3 to 7 hundredths. The Lawrence Airport got clipped with 13 hundredths. This system also brought our lowest barometer reading for the month of 29.44 inches.

Warmest Days: The last two weeks of January were generally mild in terms of high temperatures, though lows for the most part remained well below freezing. The warmest reading of the month was a balmy 67 on the 25th. This was followed by a 61 degree high on the 26th. The afternoon of the 21st, the day of our late evening thunderstorms, reached 64 degrees. This was also our warmest day of the month overall with a mean temperature of 50 degrees.

Maximum Wind: The maximum wind speed occurred on the 26th with a peak gust out of the south at 45 MPH, helping to bring our 61-degree high temperature that day.

Snowfall: Snowfall for the month averaged out to 3.8 inches among our volunteer observers across the city. The biggest event occurred on the 14th with amounts averaging near 2 inches. On the 22nd, an average of one inch of snow fell across town.

Monthly Precipitation: Total precipitation for the month added up to an average of 1.01 inches among our volunteer observers across the city, exactly normal for January.

February Climatology: February sees an average rise of about 7.5 degrees in mean temperature. The average high ranges from 42 on the first of the month to 50 by the end of the month. Normal lows range from 20 at the beginning of the month to 27 by the end of the month. Normal precipitation is 1.30 inches, including an average of about 5 inches of snowfall.


January 1st, 5:08 PM:  A bit of open water near the Dam as geese and ducks apparently keep the water mixed.


All the ice seems to be creating a bit of confusion, however. 


Ultimately, there still seems to be room for everyone, though.  


In the mean time, a full moon rises to the east.


January 1st – A frigid day to remember.  Possibly the coldest day of the year.  Unlike New Years Eve Day, at least the winds were light under a 30.86″ arctic high pressure area.


January 10th:  Day 4 of a 4-day thaw with low 50s out on Bunker hill.   Warm enough to take a an evening stroll,  What a novelty! 


The lake was still frozen solid, though.


Just after sunset on the 10th.  A Pacific system was to bring about a half inch of rain overnight before the next arctic surge came in with a vengeance the following morning. 


Cirrus shadows on the ice..



January 11th at 5 PM:  Freezing rain from the early morning sticks to the grass despite strong and gusty winds as the next arctic air mass moved in.  Temperatures back in the teens. 


January 11th:  A bit of snow on top of the ice made driving on untreated roads possible.


Arctic sunset on the 11th.


Zooming in.. 


Wide angle view.  Another frigid day to remember – or is it forget?



December 2017: Winter Arrives On Cue

December was generally a mild month through the 21st, the winter solstice. Then, on December 22nd, the first full day of winter, things took an inevitable turn for the worse when frigid air finally made its presence known. Once the cold air arrived, a modified arctic air mass remained entrenched across the region, only to be replaced by periodic surges of true arctic air from the 26th right on through the end of the year.

Temperature Specifics: The first 21 days of December averaged 7 degrees above normal with an average high of 53 and average low 26. In contrast, the last 10 days of the month averaged 12 degrees below normal with an average high of 25 and average low of 10. For the month as a whole, the average high was 44 and average low 21. Normal is 42 and 21.

The warmest temperature of the month was 71 degrees on December 3rd and 4th, now only a vague and distant memory. The coolest reading of the month was 3 below zero, which also occurred on two occasions, once on the morning of the 27th and again just before midnight on New Years Eve. New Years Eve Day was the coldest day of the month with a high of 11 and low of 3 below zero. The mean temperature on the last day of the year was 4 degrees, 25 degrees below normal for the date.

Precipitation: For the second month in a row precipitation was lacking.

The biggest event of the month occurred during the predawn hours of December 17th when an average 0.32 inches of an inch of rain fell across town. This helped dampen the very dry and dusty ground conditions a bit in the last 5 mild days before the cold air surged in.

We even had a white Christmas – sort of. On December 24th, an average of 1.2 inches of fluffy, arctic snow fell across town which contained 0.06 inches of water equivalent. However, the light and airy snow compacted down a bit by Christmas Day. (The 20:1 ratio of snowfall to moisture content is typical of arctic type snowfall.)  This was reinforced a bit on the 26th when 0.7 inches of snow fell that contained 0.04 inches of moisture.

The rain event on the 17th combined with the two light snowfall events bookending Christmas day brought precipitation for the month to 0.42 inches.  Normal for December is 1.47 inches.

Yearly Precipitation:  For the calendar year, an average of 44.66 inches fell in Lawrence among our city reporting rainfall sites. This compares to an annual average of 38.55 inches.

Our city total of 44.66 inches differs considerably from the reported Lawrence Airport total of 34.37 inches. This is because the automated measuring equipment at the airport has issues of missing data during equipment outages or mechanical malfunctions that are not corrected or accounted for.   Over time (if not with every event), this missing and unaccounted for precipitation renders the officially reported accumulated total at the airport significantly on the low side.  Lawrence is by no means the lone ranger in this regard.  The same type of errors occur with many such  ‘2nd order’ NWS climate stations.

An excellent alternative source for precipitation data in these situations is a network of citizen volunteers that make up the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. The acronym is CoCoRaHS.  Precipitation data and information about this network of precipitation observers is available online.

Monthly Outlook:  For January, the NWS monthly outlook calls for below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation for our region.  Normally the driest month of the year, January averages 1.01 inches of precipitation and about 5 inches of snowfall.

January is also the month when we normally bottom out in average temperature. The average daily mean temperature reaches a minimum of 28.7 from the 2nd to the 11th of the month.  By the end of January, the average daily mean rises to 30.7, two degrees higher than the early January minimum.

So, cheer up!


December 17th:  Looking across Perry Lake just before sunset on a mild, calm day.

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December 17th:  Bare trees along the shore of Perry Lake lit up by the setting sun.  Some rain the previous night accented the lichens on the bark a bit.   This was a mild day with a high near 50 degrees, and followed welcome wetting rain early that morning.  There was not a lot of rain, but enough to dampen down the dust for awhile and add some moisture to the air for a day or two.


Winter Solstice Day (Dec 21st), the last mild day of the month.   Here, at the Baker Wetlands, a flock of Canada Geese depart their previously tranquil pond as I approach.   The temperature was a mild 53 as I snapped this photo at 3:15 PM.  Just an hour later, the first surge of arctic air pushed in on stiff north winds.  Reinforcing arctic surges then continued for the rest of the month and right on into the new year.  




December 24th along the shore of Clinton Lake.  A light snowfall of about an inch fell early in the day.  The high was 27 and the low 13.


December 30th.  A couple of eagles perch along the shore of Clinton Lake.  Unfortunately, it was hard to hold the camera still as the temperature was in the high teens with northwest winds blowing about 15-20 MPH.  Winds gusted as high as 29 MPH at the airport earlier in the day.


December 31st:  A brave soul walks the dog at the Rotary Arboretum.   True arctic air continued to surge in, resulting in the coldest day of the month on New Years Eve.   The high was 11 degrees and the low, which occurred right at the ringing in of the new year, was 3 below zero.  Northwest winds gusting to more than 20 MPH added further insult to misery.




November 2017: An Unusual Month



Just after sunset on November 15th, a pleasant day with a high near 60 degrees.

While November normally sees the greatest drop in temperature of the three transition months of autumn, this year November was more like a fall transition month stuck in reverse.

If one divides the month into three ten-day periods, the first ten days was the coolest period and the last 10 days of the month was the warmest. The first 10-days of November had an average daily mean of 41.6 degrees, which was 6.6 degrees below normal. The last ten days of November had an average daily mean of 47.2 degrees, which was 8.4 degrees above normal.

There is an unexpected November scenario for you.

November Temperature Specifics: For November as a whole, the average daily high was 57 and the average low 33. This resulted in an average daily mean of 45 degrees, which was 1.5 degrees above normal.

The coldest reading of the month at the airport was 15 degrees on November 22nd. With a high of 44, the resulting daily mean was 30 degrees, also the coldest of the month.

The next day, the 23rd, Thanksgiving Day, was pleasant with a high in the upper 60s and the low around the freezing mark.

The day after Thanksgiving, the 24th,  the temperature hit 77 at the Lawrence Airport, the warmest reading of the month. With a low of 43, the daily mean was 60 degrees, also the warmest of the month. This was a rather incredible 30 degrees warmer than the daily mean temperature of just two days previous.

In fact, November 24th saw record warmth for the date throughout the region including at Topeka (79; previous record 76), Concordia (83; previous record 73), St Joseph (75; previous record 72) and Wichita (76; previous record 70).

Also instructive of the ‘reverse’ temperature trend in November, all ten days of the month that reached 60 or warmer occurred from the 15th to the 30th. On the other hand, five of the six days that recorded highs in the 40s occurred during the first half of the month.

Wind: Strong and gusty winds occurred on several days as a series of dry fronts swept across the region, especially during the last half of the month. The windiest day was the 18th with a peak gust out of the northwest of 42 MPH. Two days later, on the 20th, south winds gusted to 40 MPH. The day after that, northwest winds gusted to 40 MPH. Close behind, toward the end of the month, south winds gusted to 39 MPH on the 28th.

I don’t know about everyone else, but all the back and forth wind left a bumper crop of Pin Oak leaves surrounding my humble abode this season.

Barometric Pressure: In the fall, winter and spring months, it is sometimes interesting and instructive to note the barometric pressure. So, for any barometer watchers out there, the lowest barometric pressure of November was 29.37 inches on the 18th, which was also the day with the strongest winds. The highest barometric pressure was 30.42 inches on the 10th, the second coldest day of the month and also the day with the coldest high temperature (42 degrees).

Humidity: Very changeable humidity also occurs in the fall, winter and spring and can be indicative of weather trends. The three days of highest average humidity were all in the first half of November. Conversely, the three days of lowest average humidity were all in the last half of the month. The last 10 days of the month were quite dry with all of the three driest readings. The lowest humidity reading of the month was 21 percent on both the 21st and 26th. Close behind was a minimum humidity of 22 percent on the 30th and 23 percent on the 29th.

Precipitation: Rainfall in November was nothing to shout or write home about. Only 0.12 inches was recorded at the Lawrence Airport. The average from our reporting rain gage sites across the city was 0.18 inches.  Normal for November is 2.18 inches.

The only wetting rain of the month occurred on November 11th. On that day, a tenth of an inch of drizzle and small-dropped rain fell on our Veterans Day parade.

The last rain of any real significance dates back to October 21st and 22nd, when well over two inches fell.  With only negligible rainfall since, most of which fell on Veterans Day, we were 5 ½ weeks into a relative dry spell as of the end of November.

Calendar year precipitation: At this point, nothing is going to stop our well above normal precipitation for the calendar year. While November’s contribution was not significant this year, our six to seven regularly reporting precipitation sites across the city are up to an average of 44.24 inches for the year to date. Normal through the end of November is 37.08 inches.

Looking ahead: The one-month outlook issued by the NWS on November 30th forecasted a moderately strong likelihood of below normal precipitation for December. The temperature forecast for our area is non-committal – equal chances of above or below normal.

The average daily high and low for December is 42 and 21. December averages 1.47 inches of precipitation, including about five inches of average snowfall (that fluffy white stuff, in case you’ve forgotten).



A Mild and Dry Last 8 Days of November

November 23rd – 30th.

The average mean temperature during the last eight days in November at the Lawrence Airport was 50.5, which was 12.1 degrees above normal.

The average high for the period was 65 and the average low 35.  At my residence in southwest Lawrence, the average high was also 65 and the average low 40.  This is pretty consistent with recent history where I find that my high temperatures agree closely with the airport values but my low temperatures run about five degrees warmer than the airport on average.  This is easily explained by the fact that the airport is located on the Kansas River flood plain where cold drains and pools at night if winds are relatively light.  The difference in low temperatures is far greater on clear and calm nights.  In these situations, the low at the airport is anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees cooler than what I register at my residence in town.  On cloudy and/or windy nights, low temperatures will be similar to a couple of degrees cooler at the airport.

Humidity was low during the period with generally breezy to windy conditions.


Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, just before sunset on the Baker Wetlands.  Temperature of 65 degrees with light winds and just some high clouds.


500 MB Thanksgiving morning, November 23rd. 



November 24th – Norman the dog at the east shore of Perry Lake at 4 PM.  This was the warmest day of the month with a high of 77 in Lawrence.  Record high temperatures for the date in the mid to upper 70s occurred throughout eastern Kansas with record high lower 80s in central Kansas.  By this time, however, a dry cold front had just moved through at Perry Lake and temperatures were beginning to cool a bit on breezy northwest winds, as can be seen by the wave action on the lake.


November 25th, 4:30 PM:  Once again on the east shore of Perry Lake – a fine day with clear skies, light winds and a temperature of about 60.


500 MB Saturday morning, November 25th.


November 26th at 3 PM:  Trail through the tall grass at the Topeka Audubon Bird Sanctuary near the upper east arm of Perry Lake.  A guy working on the trials said he saw a golden eagle by the lake (the lake visible in the background).   It was another mild and dry day with the temperature in the upper 60s.


November 27th:  A sunset walk on public lands just east of Perry Lake.  Again the temperature was in the mid 60s with light south breezes, which had brought up somewhat higher humidity.


500 MB Monday morning, November 27th.  A stout shortwave broke the high pressure ridge and pushed into California bringing some much-needed rain and high elevation snow to central sections of the state.  Not much for southern sections of the state, though.  


500 MB Tuesday evening, November 28th.  The shortwave has become a closed low trekking across just to our south.  It brought some decent rain up to around a half inch as far north as Medicine Lodge, Wichita and far southeast Kansas on the 29th, but just some cloudiness to our area (below). 


November 29th, 3:50 PM – A thick overcast but all the rain missed to our south moving across far southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma.  This is looking northwest from just north of Baldwin City, at the Signal Oak Historical Marker.   Just to the north of this location is The Baldwin Woods, part of which can be seen to the center right in this photo.  From the Jayhawk Audubon Website:  “The Baldwin Woods is considered one of the westernmost examples of an eastern deciduous forest in the state.  With mature oaks and hickories and a well-developed understory, the area is quite distinct from other wooded areas in the county.”


November 29th at 4:27 PM – Some interesting clouds and late day clearing about 3 miles southwest of Lone Star Lake – specifically, looking west off of E400 Rd just north of Highway 56.  The area is known as the Globe Prairie and was home to Douglas County’s last Prairie Chickens.  It is still a good area for open country bird watching as some of the largest tracts of native grassland in Douglas County are in this area around the hamlet of Globe. 


November 29th, 4:36 PM.  Looking west a short distance north of the above photo.  The temperature was in the mid 50s at this time. With the dearth of rainfall over the last 5 weeks (0.10 to 0.20 inches), the surface of the ground is dry and the gravel roads very dusty.


November 30th at 4:10 PM:  From the boat ramp at the Rock Creek arm of Clinton Lake.  My approach disturbed the gulls, which in turn awakened the pelicans perched on a snag.   Sunny skies, light winds and temperatures in the mid to upper 50s closed out the month.


November 30th, 4:30 PM.  Saw this guy perched on the power supply to a small farmhouse southwest of Clinton Lake.  Took this out the passenger side window of the vehicle.


He was either sharpening his beak or finishing a meal, but I didn’t see a carcass.


Pretty bird!






Week in Review: Dribbles of Rain, Lots of Wind and Roller Coaster Temperatures

November 13th – 22nd:  A series of moisture-starved cold fronts pushed across the area during the past week or so as a west to northwest upper-level flow regime predominated.

Since the Veterans Day drizzle event on the 11th, just four hundredths of an inch has registered at the Lawrence Airport.  Within Lawrence our manual observers averaged seven hundredths, with .05″ on the 14th-15th and 0.02″ on the 18th.  With the first ten days of the month essentially dry, the monthly total at the airport stands at 12 hundredths, with the city coming in at 18 hundredths.  The few dribbles of rain were no match for the strong and gusty winds over the last few days, with surface ground conditions now rather dry and dusty following our wet October.   This stands to reason, as the last precipitation of significance ended exactly one month ago, on the morning of October 22nd, when 2.32 inches fell in 24 hours at the airport and 2.41 inches across the city.  Since then, only the above mentioned feeble amounts of November have occurred.

Temperatures during the past 10 days (13th to the 22nd) were quite variable, as is typical in this transitional time of year.  The warmest day was Friday the 17th with a high of 73 and low of 51, bringing a daily mean temperature that was 19 degrees above normal.  On the cool side, Wednesday, the 22nd, came in with the coldest reading of the season so far with a low of 15 at the Lawrence Airport, while a low of 20 degrees was recorded on my home weather station in southwest Lawrence from about 6:45 to 7:45 AM.  The coolest high temperature of the period was also Wednesday the 22nd with a high of 44 at the airport and on my home weather station as well.

Perhaps the big story during the past week or so has been the gusty winds that have both preceded and followed several modified Canadian cold fronts with air mainly of northern Pacific origin (as opposed to winter-like arctic cold fronts which have yet to penetrate the local area).

Northwest winds were quite strong on Saturday, the 18th, with maximum sustained winds of 33 MPH and a peak gust to 42 MPH.   This was almost matched by south winds  on Monday, the 20th, sustained up to 30, gusting to 40 MPH.   Needless to say, this was followed by quite breezy north winds behind another cold front on Tuesday, the 21st, when north winds again gusted to 40 MPH with maximum sustained winds of 32 MPH.  If all this back and forth windiness has not left piles of leaves around your humble abode by this point (as they have at my place),  then probably nothing much will.

The dry west to northwest flow regime looks to continue the rest of the month.  Warmer air will start to advect into Kansas as early as tonight, the 22nd, as winds again turn light out of the south, likely prevent subfreezing temperatures from occurring.   Passing dry cold fronts are expected to bring mainly a glancing blow to our area, mainly passing by to our north and east, as a ridge of high pressure aloft to our west dominates the local region.  This should result in milder temperatures and less wind from passing dry cold fronts over the next week than what we have had over the last several days.

In short, dry and generally pleasant conditions for late November can be expected at least into early next week and perhaps for the rest of the month.


Wednesday, November 15th, 5:09 PM:  A pleasant sunset at Clinton Lake.  The temperature was in the mid 50s at the time, having maxed out near 60.   Winds were northwest on this day up to 28 MPH following the passage of an early morning cold front.  Before the front moved in, showers dropped five hundredths of an inch of rain fell across town in the wee hours of the morning around 2 AM.


Nine minutes after the previous image, I snapped this zoom of the western horizon revealing that our turkey vulture friends are still out on their favorite lake-view perches at Clinton Lake.


At the Baker Wetlands on Thursday, November 16th at 5:42 PM:  This heron is patiently waiting in locally calm waters for an unwary fish.  This was a pleasant day with a high of 57, low of 28 and light southeast winds.


At 5:08 PM, the sun has set behind a bank of lower clouds in the distant west as a flock of Canada Geese decides on a roosting area for the night out at the Baker Wetlands.


Friday, November 17th, at the north end of Perry Lake.  This was the warmest day of the month so far with a high of 73.  Here, at 4:55 PM, it is still 70 degrees as the sun sets behind dense cirrus on the horizon.  Note also the streaks of cirrus in the strong westerly jet-stream winds aloft.  Commercial aircraft are also leave their ‘con trails’ aloft over ‘flyover country’ at sunset.



By 5:17 PM, 22 minutes after the above image, the sun was reflecting off the base of some alto stratus that had developed over the last 20 minutes or so ahead of an approaching upper trough and cold front.


And here is that upper trough and jet stream on the evening of the 17th.  Notice the strong 150 Kt + jet max over Colorado with a 135 Kt max extending eastward to Topeka.  This will generate some alto status, alright!  Not to mention who knows what else..


Here is the incoming trough at 700 MB (about 10,000 ft).



At the surface, a low is over Kansas with a cold front knocking on our door and pushing into northwest Kansas by this time (8 PM on the 17th).  Note the very closely packed isobars across Colorado and Utah marking an area of strong northwest winds that were to effect us the following day.


Saturday morning, November 18th, the upper trough moves across with the jet max sinking southward.


Here is the deepening700 MB trough with some moisture and colder air moving in on strong north winds.


At 850 MB (5000 ft) lots of moisture and very strong north winds Saturday morning with the trough at this level having already moved through most of Kansas.  A little light rain fell with this moisture before the strong winds hit.


Just before sunset Saturday, November 18th, 4:28 PM, at Deer Creek Wildlife Area just northwest of Clinton Lake.   The daytime high was 52 as cold air pushed in behind the early morning cold front.  A couple hundredths of an inch of rain fell across the area between about 8 and 9 AM behind the front.  Skies gradually cleared during the afternoon as drier air moved in.  Here, some instability cumulous are dissipating with the loss of daytime heating.  Winds were very strong and gusty out of the northwest all day with a maximum gust of 42 MPH at the Lawrence Airport.


Looking east at Deer Creek Wildlife Area at 4:30 PM, we see some lingering, ragged, dissipating cumulous as northwest winds gradually decrease.


At the west end of Clinton Lake, looking east, at 4:58 PM.  The dam can be seen in the distance, lit by the setting sun on the horizon (left center).


The sun sinks below the western horizon as seen from about a mile west of Clinton Lake at 5:11 PM Saturday, November 18th.  A very blustery day, winds averaged 16.2 MPH at the Lawrence Airport, an unusually high number for an entire 24-hour period.  Piles of leaves surrounded my residence by the end of the day.  Piles.  As winds died down, the low Sunday morning, the 19th, dropped to 23 at the Lawrence Airport and 27 at my residence in southwest Lawrence.


Tuesday evening, November 21st:  Splitting upper trough, with part driving straight south into Texas and part splitting off to the Great Lakes Region.  The result for the Lawrence area was a dry cold front passage bringing gusty northwest winds to 40 MPH.


Surface map at midnight, Tuesday night, Nov 21st/22nd.  Strong surface high of modified pacific origin pushes over Kansas, bringing dying winds and temperatures rapidly dropping into the mid 20s Tuesday after sunset.


By Wednesday morning, the surface high is centered right over eastern Kansas, allowing maximum radiational cooling.  The morning low was 15 at the Lawrence Airport, the coolest reading of the fall season so far and likely the entire month.


Water vapor image at 8:45 PM Tuesday evening (Nov 21st) showing the upper trough that drove the latest cold front extending from Indiana to central Texas.  A ridge of high pressure aloft is out west over California.  An ‘atmospheric river’ of moisture extending from the subtropical Pacific to the Pacific Northwest has been bringing lots of rain to Washington and northern Oregon.


By early Wednesday morning (5:45 AM CST) the split upper trough extends from the Virginias to east Texas.  The atmospheric river of moisture continues feeding into the Pacific Northwest, then rounds the corner over the upper ridge out west, crosses the Rockies and heads our way.  Of course, by the time the river of Pacific moisture crosses the northern Rockies, lower level moisture is completely wrung out.   The eastern front of the northern Rockies triggers a wave that brings some some enhanced cirrus, which then gradually thins as it heads southward across the plains.


Wednesday evening at Jet-stream level, the 250 MB chart shows the splitting upper trough to our east with the southern portion that was over eastern Texas 24 hours ago (above 250 chart) now over the western Gulf of Mexico.  The upper ridge out west is bringing record or near record warmth to much of the Pacific southwest over the Thanksgiving Holiday period.  This includes southern California where low to mid 90s were common today across the Los Angeles and San Diego region, even right along the coast!  Highs in the low 80s occurred today as far north as the Monterey Bay Area and Las Vegas.


At the 850 MB level (about 5,000 ft ASL) Wednesday evening.  Warmer air is moving in across Kansas, as can be seen with the warmer isotherm lines crossing the state perpendicular to the west to northwest wind flow.  Out west, an expensive high pressure area is over the inter-mountain region.  This is bringing an off-shore flow at this level and below along the southern California coast, resulting in the extreme warmth in that region.  Farther north, an atmospheric river of moist air originating from the subtropics continues to bring rain to the Pacific Northwest.


Drizzle on your Parade

November 11th and 12th:


From the Lawrence Journal World:  “Veterans on motorcycles ride down Massachusetts Street in the Veteran’s Day parade on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017.”  Photo by Mike Yoder.

Veterans Day (Saturday, November 11th) brought the first widespread precipitation event of November as a ‘soaking drizzle’ fell across the area Saturday afternoon and evening.  When the measurable precipitation was done at about 9:30 PM, an average tenth of an inch of precipitation had accumulated across town, with individual amounts ranging from 0.07 to 0.13 inches.  At the Lawrence Airport, 0.08 inches was measured.  Temperatures were hovering in the mid 40s during the event with a light east breeze.  The high was 49, just before noon, and the low 35, resulting in a mean temperature that was four degrees below normal for the date.

Low-level ‘cold air advection’ on Sunday, the 12th, kept a low overcast across the region, though the sun made a few attempts to peer through at times around noon.  The high again reached 49 at about noon with a mid morning low of 45.   However, clearing shortly after sunset and subsequent radiational cooling allowed the temperature to drop to 31 at the Lawrence Airport by about 10 PM, resulting in a daily mean of five degrees below normal for the date.  The midnight to midnight range at my residence in southwest Lawrence was 50 and 37, averaging out to only 1.5 degrees below the normal daily mean of 45 degrees.


Satellite image at 2:45 PM Saturday, during the height of the drizzle event. Low clouds blanket the area with band of higher clouds over the local area as well, making for a low-light day indeed, along with the drizzle.   


Color Infrared image at the same time as the above visual image:  The layered clouds are clearly seen here with the low cloud tops at 0 degrees C (light orange) and mid to high level clouds in a band above (-10C to -30 degrees C cloud tops).    


250 MB Chart (jet stream level) at 6 PM Saturday:  The upper wave over the plains states moves in, bringing enough lift for the drizzle.  Note the very strong jet streak over northeast Kansas of 110 knots, which helps provide lift as well.


The 6 PM Saturday Topeka weather balloon sounding data shows that the saturated layer was limited to below 700 MB (10,000 feet ASL) by this time, with mainly dry air above.  Thus the very light precipitation, as only this low-level moisture was lifted by the incoming wave, wringing out  mainly drizzle, mixed with a bit of small-dropped light rain.


The Saturday evening 850 MB chart (about 5,000 feet ASL) shows the extensive moisture at this level over the local region with a weak trough also seen moving across Kansas.


The Saturday evening 700 MB chart (about 10,000 ft ASL) clearly shows the mid-level wave traversing eastern Kansas.   However, the computer has mis-drawn the 0-degree Celsius isotherm at this level, as Topeka shows a -2C reading.  So, the solid blue line should dip south of Topeka, not swerve north.  Just goes to show you – computer analysis can be a bit goofy on these charts!


Satellite image at 4:15 CST on Sunday, October 12th:  The clearing advanced almost but not quite to Lawrence by the last hour of the day.


The snags in the distance at Clinton Lake at 4:56 PM Sunday – 13 minutes before official sunset time.  Low overcast skies continued with just a hint of the advancing clearing seen in lighter skies along a strip above the northwest horizon.  So, under rather dark gray skies, I zoomed in on the mid-lake perches and west shore of the lake.  The turkey vultures are still hanging out on the perches, along with the occasional gull and pelican.  Some color is still vaguely seen on some of the west-shore trees, as well. 



First 10 Days of November Cool, Mainly Cloudy and Dry


The Baker Wetlands on Sunday, November 5th:  Breaking up was hard to do, but low cloudiness  finally cleared during the afternoon of the 5th as a dry cool front pushed in from the north.  This was welcome relief following a long, dreary period of continual overcast skies since the 31st of October.  Time to get out and take a few photos, finally!

Temperatures during the first 10 days of November averaged a cool 6.6 degrees below normal, according to official readings taken at the Lawrence Airport.  Precipitation has been limited to a bit of light drizzle recorded at some manual city sites during the first few days of the month.

A low overcast deck that prevailed from the 1st through the 4th of the month finally cleared out during the afternoon of Sunday, November 5th, after a dry cold front pushed in.  Clear skies and cool temperatures prevailed behind the front on the 6th.   On the 7th, a fast, westerly jet stream flow aloft brought mid and high level cloudiness.  Wednesday, the 8th, brought clear skies and light winds.  The 9th was mostly sunny but with some thin high clouds.  The 10th had a broken high stratus deck at around 5000 feet most of the day.

The average high temperature during the first 10 days of November at the Lawrence Airport was 51 and the average low 32 (rounded to the nearest whole degree).   At my residence, near Clinton Parkway and Inverness, the average high was 50 (one degree cooler than the airport) and the average low 35 (three degrees warmer than the airport), ranging from a high of 57 on the 2nd to a low of 26 on the 10th.  Normal for the 10-day period as a whole is 61 and 36, though average temperatures drop about a half a degree daily this time of year.

As the numbers show, the deviation below normal so far in November has been determined more by the cool high temperatures than the overnight low readings.  However, lows have averaged about 4 degrees below normal, with half of the days during the period dipping into 20s at the official Lawrence climate site on the Kansas River floodplain.

The warmest temperature during the period at the airport was 57 on November 5th and the coolest was 23 on the morning of the 8th.

Only the second day of the month has had a mean temperature above normal, and it was only one degree above normal, at that.   This was also the warmest average day with a high of 56 and low of 45.  The coolest day was the 10th with a high of 41 and low of 25.  The 10th also recorded the greatest negative daily deviation with a mean temperature of 13 degrees below normal.

No precipitation has been recorded at the airport during the month.  Two of our manual rainfall sites across town recorded one hundredth of an inch from light drizzle on the 2nd, with other sites recording a trace.  Trace amounts were also recorded at some city sites on the 1st, 3rd and 4th of the month as light drizzle and mist drifted down at times from the persistent low overcast.

The airport site recorded ‘mist’ at times during this period, a non-precipitation aviation weather condition which occurs when the humidity is high and the visibility is recorded at 6 miles or less.  When the visibility drops to a half mile or less with high humidity, the aviation weather condition is recorded as ‘fog,’  which also occurred on a few mornings early in the month.


At jet stream level (250 MB) on the morning of November 4th:  Splitting upper trough along the west coast with a ridge over Kansas and a strong jet stream flow.  Warm air aloft is trapping cool, low-level moist air over northeast Kansas, resulting in the persistent low cloudiness. 


Topeka upper air sounding on the evening of November 4th.  A strong inversion starting just below 900 MB extending to 850 MB traps cool, low-level moist air near the surface.  Dry air lies above the inversion until the jet stream flow brings some mid and high level moisture and clouds above about 500 MB.  Strong westerly winds aloft peak at 115 knots at about 250 MB.  


On the afternoon of the 5th, a cool, dry north breeze shunted the moist air southward allowing the sun to come out following five consecutive overcast days.  This seemed to be a good time to test the strangely sunlit, wind-blown waters.


But there is a bit too much wind to see any fish here..


So time to fly to calmer waters..


Come on out, the water’s fine..



Coots and ducks seemed to be enjoying the novel late afternoon sunshine on November 5th, though the temperature was about 50 and falling on the dry, late-day north breezes.


Monday, the 6th, was blessed with more sunshine and a decent sunset at Clinton Lake.  Here, some coots swim slowly by in the foreground.   Low clouds were trying to push in from the south by late in the day, as seen here near the horizon, blocking the setting sun.   Temperatures were falling through the mid 40s at sunset.  The low clouds moved on in and held temperatures in the lower 40s after dark.



Jet stream cirrus in the fast flow aloft reflected some color in the water, too.


Jet stream level on Tuesday evening, November 7th, a mostly cloudy day with mid and high level overcast.  A very strong jet streak is over northeast Kansas ahead of a short wave trough to the west that was bringing drier air aloft and some gradual clearing very late in the day, as seen below.


Late in the day on Tuesday the 7th:  Some clearing was taking place from the north.   This was a rather raw, cloudy day with north breezes.   The photo was taken at a wildlife area north of Valley Falls, about 35 miles north-northwest of Lawrence.


A big old buck was being rambunctious.  Well, it is that time of year..


East of Valley Falls, a last gasp light show after sunset as some clearing finally pushed in from the north.


Wednesday, November 8th:  A sunny, calm and cool day after some early morning clouds.  Upon setting foot the at the Baker Wetlands parking lot in the afternoon, a red tailed hawk immediately swooped in.  I think he was actually interested in Norman, the Dog, before he then noticed me, too.  The red-tail then quickly changed course, alighting on the immediately adjacent light pole.


The young red tail hawk hung around surveying the scene for a minute.  Deciding there was not much to see after all, he then flew over to a nearby tree top.  This appears to be the same resident juvenile I have photographed previously in the same tree by the interpretive display board near the visitor center.   Rather scraggly-looking before, he is now a handsome fellow.


The coots and ducks seemed to be enjoying the sunny, cool and calm conditions..


And the light winds brought good stalking conditions for the herons..


Shortly after sunset some Canada Geese approached a watery landing site from which to reach their overnight roosts.