A heat burst at the Hays Regional Airport at about 9:40 p.m. Tuesday resulted in a high temperature for the day occurring well after dark, an unusual phenomenon.
“The high temperature at the airport was 97 degrees around 5 p.m. Tuesday,” said Larry Ruthi, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Dodge City.
“Then, the temperature dropped to 88 degrees by 9 p.m. At 10,000 feet, the temperature was still 70 degrees, extremely hot for that level. There were thunderstorms in Hamilton County, southern Ness County and in Rush County, and downbursts began just after 9:30 p.m.
“Strong west winds with gusts as high as 61 miles an hour arrived at the Hays airport, along with blowing dust that reduced visibility to 1.75 miles. That’s when the temperature rose to 99 degrees for a short time, the result of outflow from the high-based thunderstorms to the south and west of Hays.”
The precipitation evaporated before it hit the ground.
Conditions at the Hays airport are recorded by the Dodge City NWS office every 20 minutes.
Official weather records for Hays have been kept by the K-State Agricultural Research Center just south of town for more than 100 years. The official high for Tuesday was 96 degrees — well below the 104 degrees recorded in 1933.
“It’s not unusual for there to be significant differences in rainfall amounts and temperatures between that location, which is surrounded by trees, and the airport in an open location 3 or 4 miles to the east,” Ruthi said. “Hays residents will notice what we (NWS) report and what the research center reports can vary. It’s just a matter of different observation locations.”