The climate of Kansas is warm to hot during summer and cool to cold in winter. Although there is a large difference between summer and winter temperatures, during each season of the year temperatures do not vary greatly from place to place. In winter the prevailing winds are from the north. In summer they are from the south or southwest.
Average January temperatures range from about 1° C (about 34° F) in the southeastern part of the state to between -3° and -2° C (26° and 28° F) in northern Kansas. The average January temperature at Topeka is about -2° C (about 28° F). Throughout the state, daytime lows in the lower -20°s C (below 0° F) sometimes occur in winter, and lows of -34° C (-30° F), although infrequent, have been recorded.
Average July temperatures range from below 24° C (76° F) in northwestern Kansas to above 27° C (80° F) in sections of central and southern Kansas. The average July temperature at Topeka is about 26° C (about 78° F). Throughout the state, daytime highs are often in the lower 30°s C (lower 90°s F), and extreme summer temperatures in the lower 40°s C (upper 100°s F) have been recorded in most areas. Precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) diminishes from east to west, ranging from between 860 and 1,020 mm (34 and 40 in) in the east to between 410 and 510 mm (16 and 20 in) in the west. The eastern third of Kansas, the wettest part of the state, usually receives more than 760 mm (30 in) of precipitation.
However, precipitation is extremely variable from year to year and, to a lesser extent, from place to place. In each decade, cycles of comparatively wet years alternate with cycles of dry years. In dry years drought conditions vary in severity and extent, but they are more common in the western part of the state than elsewhere. During the most severe droughts the combination of hot rainless days and high winds create dust-bowl conditions in western Kansas and in other parts of the Great Plains. Most of the annual precipitation in Kansas falls as rain, occurring mainly during the period from April through August, when it is most needed for growing crops. However, it is often in the form of heavy thundershowers or hailstorms, which can damage crops. In winter, precipitation is generally light and usually in the form of snow. Blizzard conditions occur when the snow is accompanied by strong winds. Tornadoes, which are violent windstorms, occur with some regularity in Kansas, usually in the spring.
The growing season, or period between the last killing frost in the spring and the first killing frost in the fall, ranges from about 160 days in the northwest to more than 190 days in the south and southeast. In the spring the last killing frost usually occurs in the first two weeks of April in the southeast and in the last week of April in the northwest. The fall killing frost usually occurs in the first week of October in the northwest and in middle or late October in the southeast. © "United States" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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