Archive for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Though in disbelief, many Douglas County residents pleased with cooler-than-average summer

September 2, 2009

“Unbelievable,” is how Bill Wood, director of Douglas County’s K-State Research & Extension office, summed up this summer’s weather.

He said the cool, wet summer could yield a record corn crop this year. Pastures and lawns have been greener and the annual Douglas County Fair, which was the first week of August, was actually tolerable.

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“We were going into fair time and it’s like, ‘Man, we haven’t had a week of heat yet and it’s probably going to nail us,’ but it didn’t,” Wood said. “Usually, you get at least a week of hot weather in August.”

Dirk Wedd, head football coach at Lawrence High School, thinks Mother Nature still might drop the ball.

“I think everybody is wondering when payback is going to come,” he said, laughing. “Is it going to be 30 inches of snow? Or next summer, 10 days of 100-degree weather? I think we are kind of holding our breath about what Mother Nature is going to do.”

Usually, this time of year, coaches are monitoring the heat and how much time athletes can spend on the field.

“It’s been very enjoyable,” he said. “We lift and condition in the mornings, and there’s been a few times where we had to wear long sleeves to workouts,” he said. A couple of coaches even broke out their jackets on Monday.

According to Mary Knapp, state climatologist, it was the fourth-coolest summer — June, July and August — in Lawrence in 70 years. The average temperature was 74.2, just 2.4 degrees higher than the coolest summer in 1993.

Normally, Lawrence has seven days of temperatures that are over 100 degrees. This year, there was just one and it was in June, when the average temperature was 75.8 degrees — about on par with the norm.

July and August were cooler than usual. In July, the average temperature was 73.5 degrees or 6.7 degrees cooler than normal. The average temperature in August was 73.2, which was 5.5 degrees cooler.

“They are not what you would quite expect for summer,” Knapp said.

Lawrence also has received 19.65 inches of rain during the past three months, 6.2 inches more than the 30-year average. The periodic rainfall has been welcome by almost everyone, unless you talk to construction workers or hay farmers.

“Trying to find three or four days in a row where it doesn’t rain is very difficult,” Wood said. “But, we have a lot hay because it grew and grew and grew.”

So, will there be payback?

Knapp doesn’t think so. She said it’s an El Niño year, which typically translates to warmer-than-normal temperatures and milder winters.

“That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to see cold, nasty weather, but overall it could be milder than what we would typically see,” she said.

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