It’s been some time since readers have submitted questions to this column, but lately we’ve received several, all weather-related.
That’s only natural, when Wednesday’s high was predicted to be near 106 degrees, and today’s high will push 107 for good measure. One reader asks where the temperature for Great Bend is measured. Another asks, "What year holds the record number of 100 degree (or higher) days in Great Bend, and how many three-digit days have we had this year?"
It turns out most weather questions can be answered with one phone call, to the National Weather Service office in Wichita. Meteorologist Robb Lawson provided a forecast through Labor Day and promised to call back with the historical data.
First, the bad news: Barton, Russell, Rice and Ellsworth counties were under a heat advisory Wednesday, and it’s supposed to be slightly hotter today. That means the temperature should reach 107 degrees in the afternoon and stay above 100 through the early evening. During a heat advisory, people should take steps to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke, especially if they’re working or playing outdoors. That means wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothing and drink plenty of water. If possible, reschedule strenuous outdoor activities to early morning or evening, and take plenty of rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned areas.
One more reminder about the heat from the NWS: "Temperatures within vehicles can become lethal in a few minutes. Never leave children or pets in vehicles. ... Check the backseat."
Now the good news: Friday’s high should only be around 95, and there will be a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. "A more significant cool-down looks to arrive Sunday into Monday," Lawson said. The NWS forecast for Saturday also incudes a 30 percent chance of showers. Sunday should be mostly sunny with a high near 79, and the prediction for Labor Day is sunny with a high near 78.
The precipitation and temperature measurements for Great Bend are taken at the municipal airport, where the Federal Aviation Administration has a sensor, Lawson said. "It’s kind of unique because we don’t maintain it — FAA does."
For questions about averages and record temperatures, the most accurate data comes from a National Weather Service senor located two miles northeast of Larned in Pawnee County. That location averages 15 days a year where the temperature rises to 100 degrees or higher. The record is 50 days of triple digits back in 1950. Counting today, which is almost guaranteed to top 100, the total for this year will be 48, for now. After today, the 100-degree days may be over for the year. If so, the 1950 record will stand.
Good Question is written by Susan Thacker for the Great Bend Tribune. Send questions in care of the Tribune, P.O. Box 228, Great Bend, KS 67530, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.