Pratt got some good moisture on Monday and Tuesday. From the long range forecast for winter 2012, it might be the best in store for a while.


Pratt got some good moisture on Monday and Tuesday. From the long range forecast for winter 2012, it might be the best in store for a while.

The country is in a La Nina weather pattern right now and that favors milder temperatures and dryer weather than normal for a Kansas winter, said Mary Knapp, state climatologist.

The predicted three-month average for the winter is below normal precipitation from Kansas down to the Gulf of Mexico with a wetter than normal winter for the upper United States, Knapp said.

Any precipitation will be welcome following the drought that hit the area in 2010. The lack of precipitation and the intense heat caused substantial damage to dryland crops over a wide area. Pastures also suffered from the lack of moisture.

In July, the temperature got over 100 degrees 23 times. The average high temperature for the entire month of July was 101 degrees, Knapp said.

The lack of moisture is so bad that Pratt received less than half the amount of moisture it usually receives in a year based on a 30-year average.

November produced some good moisture including some areas in the state that saw double the normal amount of precipitation but that won’t make up for the less than half the normal precipitation that Pratt got in 2011.

“November was very good to us,” Knapp said. “But even double normal won’t give us relief.”

That rain helped bring some drought relief to the area. But even with the recent precipitation that won’t give the area much relief.

While the three-month outlook is for weather that will not be as severe as it could be, Knapp said it isn’t time to put the snow shovels just yet. When predicting weather this far in advance it is good to remember that outlooks and forecasts can be wrong, Knapp said.

Weather patterns that come down from the arctic tend to be colder and dryer than weather patterns that come out of the Three Corners area. They also tend to bring more moisture to the lower states.

Looking beyond the winter months and into spring, if the La Nina pattern stays in the area it will probably bring drier than normal precipitation from Nebraska to Texas and to the west.

The normal precipitation for Pratt in December is 0.93 inches and with the combination of the precipitation Monday and Tuesday, Pratt will probably beat the December average and that will help but not cure the moisture problem.

It certainly won’t make up for the 10 inches below normal precipitation Pratt got in 2011 up to December.

A Dry Year
2011 precipitation compared to average:
           2011    Avg.
Jan.    0.50    0.64
Feb.    0.60    0.90
March    0.42    2.30
April    0.78    2.47
May    3.10    3.69
June    1.23    4.23
July    1.95    3.14
Aug.    2.50    3.33
Sept.    1.25    2.39
Oct.    1.32    2.26
Nov.    2.67    1.15