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A dry year goes in the books for 2020

By The Examiner staff

Despite heavy rains at times during the summer, 2020 was a drier-than-average year.

The total precipitation for 2020 was 34.15 inches, 4.71 inches shy of the average, 38.86, according to the National Weather Service, which records the area’s official records at Kansas City International Airport.

April and May are Kansas City’s rainiest months, on average, and July is typically slightly less so. That didn’t happen in 2020. April and May delivered a little more than half of the 10-plus inches of precipitation typical for that period. 

Then came July, with four of the year’s 11 days with an inch or more of rain, including 3.52 inches on July 15 – the wettest day of the year and one that accounted for more than one-tenth of the entire year’s precipitation. Overall, 10.02 inches of rain fell in July, compared with the average of 4.45 inches.

Then it got dry again. Precipitation in each of the last five months of the year fell short of average – almost 8 inches total.

The precipitation total got one last boost with last week’s blast of wintry mix. On Dec. 30, the rain-sleet-snow mix that fell was the equivalent of 1.19 inches of rain, a record for that date. The old record was 0.65 inches, set in 1971.

The all-time high temperature in Kansas City is 113 on Aug. 14, 1936, and the all-time low is 23 below zero on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, 1989. Neither of those records was remotely threatened in 2020. The low for the year was zero on Valentine’s Day.

The high was 94 – three times in July, three more in August – making the summer of 2020 the fourth year of the last five without a day of 100 degrees. The last time it officially hit 100 in Kansas City was July 12, 2018.

Kansas City gets an average of 18.8 inches of snow each winter. In the winter of 2019-20, the Weather Service recorded 17.2 inches. So far this winter, that figure stood at 3.3 inches as of Monday.