National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Wichita Goes From Wet to Dry



Above normal precipitation in the late winter and early spring of 2012 gave way to below normal precipitation from late spring through July for the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The Precipitation Climatology Plot (graph above) produced by the Arkansas-Red Basin River Forecast Center, shows precipitation accumulation traces yearly back to 2006 compared to the dark blue normal line.
Looking at the 2012 (baby blue) line trace shows how precipitation was above normal early on in the year and then recently at the start of July the trace crosses the normal trace, indicating precipitation totals for the year at that point is now below normal values.  On July 5th, 2012, the observed precipitation for the year stood at 17.52 inches.  At that time, Wichita was short 0.04 inches for the year.  This deficit has continued and as of July 31st, precipitation is 2.50 inches below normal for the year.

Interesting to note during the period of January through April, Wichita was ranked in the top 4 wettest period when 12.87 inches was recorded.  Then for the next 3 month period of May through July 31st, Wichita ranked as the 6th driest on record.  During those months only 4.91 inches of rain had fallen.  The driest ever during those months was in 1913 when 3.61 inches of rain was recorded.

Wichita received above normal precipitation in February (1.18 inches above), in March (1.34 inches above), and April (2.65 inches above).  Then Wichita received below normal precipitation in May (2.47 inches below), June (2.65 inches below), and through July 30th (2.96 inches below).

The hot dry weather pattern quickly impacted the area.  Wichita went from no drought problems at the end of May to a rapid intensification of drought conditions in June from moderate to severe drought.  In July, drought conditions further deteriorated for Wichita as Extreme Drought (D3) spread over the area.