Lawrence finishes 2020 in moderate drought after year-end dry spell

Lawrence finished 2020 in a moderate drought after recording about 6 inches less than its normal annual rainfall, the National Weather Service reports.

Jenni Pittman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Topeka, said Lawrence recorded 32.63 inches of rainfall in 2020; the annual average is 38.55 inches. A four-month dry spell starting in September accounted for that shortfall and created moderate drought conditions that led to an early start of the grassfire season in Douglas County, she said.

The 2020 rainfall total is in sharp contrast to the 2019 total of 47.69 inches, which was the most recorded in Lawrence since the NWS placed a weather station at Lawrence Municipal Airport in 1998.

The past year’s temperatures were pretty much average, according to statistics Pittman shared with the Journal-World. The average daytime high was 67.5 degrees, compared to the normal 67.2, and the average daily low temperature was 43.4 degrees, compared to the normal 43.5. There were no days in 2020 with temperatures of 100 degrees or more. The highest temperature, 96 degrees, was reported on Aug. 25, 26 and 28. The coldest temperature reported in Lawrence in 2020 was minus 3 degrees on Feb. 14.

There were 55 days last year when Lawrence reported a daily high temperature of 90 degrees or hotter and 125 days with a low below 32 degrees, NWS records show. The average is 51 days of highs of 90 or higher and 119 days when the low temperature dips to freezing or colder.

The past year was tranquil in terms of severe weather, with only 17 tornadoes reported in a state that normally has about 100 annually, Pittman said.

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