|Climate of Kansas||Page 1|
THE CLIMATE OF KANSAS
SNOWDEN D. FLORA
Meteorologist, U.S. Weather Bureau and State Board of Agriculture
Kansas, the premier wheat state, has an annual mean temperature almost as high as that of Virginia, more sunshine than that of any state to the east, and generous summer rains which, in the eastern counties, average heavier than those of other states, except a few along the Gulf Coast.
This favorable combination of weather elements and availability of more arable land than that in any other state, except Texas, accounts for the high rank of Kansas in crop production, finished livestock, and dairy products.
The State lies across the path of alternate masses of warm moist air moving north from the Gulf of Mexico and currents of cold, comparatively dry, air moving from the polar regions. Consequently, its weather is subject to frequent and often sharp changes, usually of short duration.
Summers are inclined to be warm--often the word "hot" describes them best--but are healthful, with low relative humidity during periods of high temperatures, and usually a good wind movement. Heat prostrations are almost unknown. Summer nights are usually cool, especially in the western counties.
Winters are drier, with more sunshine than those of eastern states. The average snowfall is less than that of other states, except those located farther south. Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and the New England States normally have from two to three times as much snowfall as Kansas.
The borders of Kansas extend 400 miles from the moderate elevations and rather humid conditions of the lower Missouri Basin to the high plains lying along the eastern slope of the Rockies. As a result, it has three rather distinct climates, outlined roughly by its eastern, middle, and western thirds.
The eastern third, rising gradually from an elevation less than 800 feet in the southeastern part to near 1,200 feet along its western line, has an average annual precipitation of 35.27 inches, a higher relative humidity, less sunshine, and less range between day and night temperatures than other parts of the State. Its winters are somewhat milder and its growing season longer than areas to the west and north. Fine yields of corn and alfalfa are produced in this section in normal years. Truck crops and fruit can be raised in abundance. Wheat is a comparatively minor crop, its average yield being less than fifteen per cent of the State's total. The famous native grassland pastures, known as "The Bluestem Hills, " are located in this section.
The middle third, with an elevation generally between 1,200 feet and 2,000 feet, has an average annual precipitation of 26.45 inches. It has drier and more bracing air, more sunshine, a better wind movement, and a greater range between day and night temperatures than the eastern third. Spring and the advancement of crops, including harvest dates, are often earlier in the south-central counties than in the southeastern part of the State. This is the heart of the hard winter wheat belt, producing in the ten-year period ending with 1945 an average of 86,516,000 bushels annually, which is more than 50 per cent of the State's total yield. Many counties produce abundant crops of corn, alfalfa, and grain sorghums. Fruit and truck crops are grown in favorable locations.
The western third is often called "The Short Grass Country" on account of the prevalence of buffalo grass in that section. It has an elevation rising from about 2,000 feet at its eastern border to near 4,000 feet in some northwestern counties and an