Is 2013 the year that August never arrived?
By KAREN DILLON
The Kansas City Star
So far, yes.
And it’s been great for tennis players, fans in the bleachers and homeowners growing green lawns.
Not so great for swimmers and people who have been waiting a month for tomatoes to ripen.
In general, the first two weeks have been more like September, meteorologist Mike July says.
“This is fantastic weather for this time of year,” July said. “I don’t think anybody is going to complain unless they like it nice and hot when they are sunbathing.”
Kansas City is enjoying the eleventh-coolest first two weeks of August on record, he said. Temperatures have averaged 73.6 degrees, about 4 degrees below normal.
The coolest August on record dates to 1915, when the average temperature was 70.1 degrees.
“If everything continued as is, we would end up being tied for having the twelfth-coldest record, but that is not likely to happen,” July said.
That’s because the weather system we are enjoying is expected to change about Tuesday and temperatures will be more normal for August, upper 80s and low 90s with rising humidity.
“Enjoy it while you can,” July warned.
The system that is causing these memorable days and a pretty cool summer overall is the result of high pressure that has been sitting over the Rocky Mountains most of the summer. A trough of low pressure is sitting in the East and backs up into the Central U.S. That allows cool air to drop down from Canada.
The difference between this summer and last is extreme: Last summer the area was in a full-blown drought and there were several days of 100-degree temperatures.
But this year sports fans have been able to sit in bleachers without almost expiring from heat and restaurant patios are brimming with customers. Parks have increased activity, seeing more bicyclists, hikers and tennis players.
One casualty of mild weather is attendance at public pools. Because of the below-normal temperatures, public pools have had to close on some days — Shawnee and Lawrence — as recently as Thursday. Attendance is down about 20 percent at several city pools in Johnson County for the swimming season.
“People made a shift to a different recreational activity because they don’t feel the need to cool off when it is 70 degrees in August,” said Sean Keenan, Shawnee recreation specialist.
Keenan and Eric Urfer, director of Independence Parks and Recreation, said they both have had to close pools because of chilly temperatures. When temperatures fall to 70 degrees and below, kids lips turn blue and they start shivering nonstop.
It’s been difficult predicting the weather, they said.
Keenan said he closed the pools Thursday about 4 p.m. when clouds rolled in and temperatures started falling.
“When I made the call it was cloudy and 15 minutes later the sun came out, a magic bubble of sunshine,” he said.
Many feared that the bewitching home-grown tomato might fall prey to the temperatures. Usually, home-grown tomatoes, known to many as “real tomatoes,” ripen by July 4. Not this year.
The weeks ticked by until almost the first week of August when the juicy fruit finally turned bright red.
“It has been kind of weird this summer,” said Ben Sharda, executive director of Kansas City Community Gardens.
Tomatoes were late because we still had snow almost to the first of May, Sharda said. The soils didn’t warm as quickly and it took a lot longer for summer to get here.
“The biological clock was running differently this year,” he said.
Sharda said he’s particularly happy since the tomatoes finally ripened the last couple weeks.
“I don’t ever eat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich until I can get a garden fresh tomato,” he said. “I have to wait a year for them.”
To reach Karen Dillon, call 816-234-4430 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.