Is the weather crazy, or is it Kansas?

Brylie Eck enjoys a ride down the dam at the south end of Lake Afton on Friday. She was there with her mother, Kelie, and two other children.

By Michelle Leidy-Franklin, TSnews

Twice this month, ice and snow have made for dangerous traveling conditions for local Kansans.
However, in both instances, the cold snap was followed quickly by mild, spring-like weather in the 60s and 70s leaving locals either scratching their heads or laughing at the absurdity of Kansas weather.
We have a saying around here.
“If you don’t like the weather, wait a day. It will change.”
But is the weather Kansans are experiencing normal?
“First we have to establish what normal is,” said meteorologist Kelly Butler with the National Weather Service of Wichita.
Butler explained that the normal temperature and snow fall for Kansas are taken from a 30-year average. According to the state averages, normal would be around 3.6 inches of snow for the month of February with an average high of around 50 degrees.
“But those are averages,” said Butler. “It’s normal for the temperatures to swing in our part of the country.”
Butler explained that low temperatures tend to balance the highs creating the normal range that is not indicative of steady, normal temperatures.
“The warmest February day was in 1996.” said Butler. “It was 87 degrees. The coldest February day was -21 degrees in 1982.”
The average snow fall for February is typically around 2.7 total inches for the month. The snowiest February on record since 1888 was in 2013 when 21.2 inches of snow fell in south central Kansas. The average yearly amount of snow received in the area is 12.7 inches.
Winter moisture is important to area farmers.
“We have gotten little moisture from the snows, but some is better than none,” said Randy Hein with Sumner County Extension. “I think it has not affected the wheat crop at this point, the wheat has stayed dormant for now.”
Large amounts of snow doesn’t necessarily equate to large amounts of moisture.
“It really depends on the temperature,” said Butler. “If the snow is light and fluffy because the temperatures are super low, it could take 17 inches of snow to equal one inch of rain. If the temperature is just below freezing in the upper 20s to lower 30s and the snow is denser, it could equate to a 10 to one ratio.”
Butler found it interesting that the second and third coldest days in February happened within a decade of each other. In 2011 temperatures fell to -17 degrees. It happened again during the two-week freeze of 2021 when the temperature again fell to -17 degrees.
“There really is no normal,”said Butler. “In Kansas temperatures swing and that’s to be expected. Some years it’s just more than others.”

Maggie White catches some air about halfway down the Lake Afton dam. A ridge in the middle of the dam adds some adventure to sledding.