The sky looked threatening early Sunday morning as about 500 cyclists hit the road in Overland Park for the 12th annual Sunflowers to Roses Bike Tour.
Then the sky opened.
“It was wet and cold. At times, it was like getting hit by little ice pellets,” said Kevin Killilea, leader of a team of cyclists from Mercedes Benz of Kansas City and Aristocrat Motors. “But it was a good cause, so it’s worth the effort.”
This is the second year in a row that the cycling event, which raises money for Cancer Action and the Children’s Mercy Hospital Survive and Thrive cancer program, has encountered stormy weather. Last year, frequent lightning forced organizers to call off the event about six miles into the tour.
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This year was wet, but not electric, and the riders were determined.
“I think with events like this you’ve made a commitment. You think about that when you’re out riding,” said J.P. Shores of Team Go Racing, which fielded 12 cyclists.
Some rain-soaked cyclists, like Rod Ambelang of Team Go Racing, chose one of the event’s shorter routes, rather than take the routes that maxed out at 72 miles — from the tour’s starting point at the Bike Source store, 11500 West 135th St., to Hillsdale Lake and back.
“I’ve ridden in worse,” Ambelang decided after cycling 56 miles rather than the 62 miles he had planned.
The unexpected showers that rolled through the Kansas City metro area Sunday morning were probably more appreciated by the many people who’ve seen their lawns parched by a 19-day streak of dry weather.
“It was a nice, steady rain,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Blair. “Any steady rain like this is a welcomed thing in August.”
Blair said forecasters hadn’t anticipated rain for Sunday until a weak disturbance in the upper atmosphere developed overnight.
Rain first was reported at Kansas City International Airport on the northern side of the metro area about 6 a.m. and moved steadily south to downtown by about 7 a.m. and south of Interstate 435 by about 7:30 a.m. By late morning, roughly half an inch of rain had fallen in many parts of the metro area.
Skies began to clear by early afternoon. Drier weather, with high temperatures in the lower 90s are expected on Monday and Tuesday.
Rainfall in June and July was just a fraction of an inch below the 10 inches normally expected for that period, Blair said. But the 19 consecutive days without measureable rainfall before Sunday may have left the impression that this has been an unusually dry summer, he said.
The next good chance of rainfall will come on Wednesday and Thursday, Blair said.