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June 2013 Climate Summary

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett - High Plains Regional Climate Center 07/05/13

For a printable version of the climate summary which includes more figures, data tables, and state summaries, click here

Temperature Summary

June 2013 average temperatures were generally near normal in the east and above normal in the west across the High Plains Region. The areas with average temperatures of about 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above/below normal included North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, eastern Kansas, and northern Wyoming. Meanwhile, southern Wyoming, most of Colorado, and western Kansas had average temperature departures of 2.0-6.0 degrees F (1.1-3.3 degrees C) above normal.

Some locations within the warmer than normal area broke into the top ten warmest Junes on record. One example was Colorado Springs, Colorado which had its 6th warmest June on record with an average temperature of 70.0 degrees F (21.1 degrees C). Although 4.9 degrees F (2.7 degrees C) above normal, this was not even close to the record that was set last year with 73.2 degrees F (22.9 degrees C). Interestingly, each June since 2010 has ranked in the top 10 warmest Junes in Colorado Springs (period of record 1894-2013). Another example was Laramie, Wyoming. With an average temperature of 62.5 degrees F (16.9 degrees C), Laramie had its 2nd warmest June. Just last year, Laramie set a new record for warmest June with 64.0 degrees F (17.8 degrees C). Now, the past two Junes hold the top two spots (period of record 1948-2013).

Precipitation Summary

June was on the drier side in the High Plains Region with most areas receiving less than 70 percent of normal precipitation. It was especially dry for most of Colorado and Wyoming which received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation and many locations in the western areas of those states received little to no precipitation. One such location was Rock Springs, Wyoming which tied with 2012 and 1956 for the driest June on record with only a trace amount of precipitation (period of record 1948-2013). There were some portions of the Region which received ample precipitation including northwestern and southeastern North Dakota, northeastern Wyoming, and a few other scattered pockets. In the Red River Valley, several slow moving storm systems brought heavy precipitation, wind, and hail. In addition to flash flooding, the heavy rains caused area rivers to rise above flood stage. Fargo, North Dakota was one of the wet spots in the Region and has been since May. Fargo set a new record for May 1-June 30 precipitation with 14.89 inches (378 mm). 7.73 inches (196 mm) fell in June marking the 7th wettest and 7.16 inches (182 mm) fell in May, marking the 4th wettest (period of record 1881-2013).

Hot, dry, and windy weather created dangerous fire conditions in Colorado. Several fires burned in Colorado; however two were of note - the Black Forest Fire and the West Fork Complex Fire. According to InciWeb, the Black Forest Fire started on June 11th due to unknown causes. The fire, located northeast of Colorado Springs, spread quickly due to high winds and thousands of people had to evacuate from the area. Ultimately, this fire became the most destructive in Colorado history, in terms of structures burned, by burning over 500 homes. Just last year, the Waldo Canyon Fire had been deemed the most destructive with 346 homes destroyed. Another fire, the West Fork Complex Fire, consists of three fires which were started by lightning on June 5th. The fire is located in southern Colorado roughly between Durango and Alamosa. This area has steep, rugged terrain and large amounts of beetle-killed trees. These factors created a dangerous situation for firefighters and by the end of June only 2% of the fire had been contained and over 92,000 acres had burned.

Climate Outlook

At the end of June, ENSO-neutral conditions were still present and likely to continue through the summer. For the next three months, the temperature outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal temperatures for most of the High Plains Region including Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, all but the extreme northeast corner of Nebraska, the western half of South Dakota, and western North Dakota. Meanwhile, the precipitation outlook indicates a higher probability of below normal precipitation for only the far northwest corner of Wyoming and extreme southwestern Kansas. Equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures and precipitation exist for the rest of the High Plains Region. The seasonal outlooks combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO).More information about these forecasts can be found here.

Drought Watch

The changes in the U.S. Drought Monitor this month showed a general improvement in the east and persistence in the west. At the end of June, approximately 67 percent of the Region was in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought - down from 73 percent at the end of May. Widespread, beneficial rains led to improvements across much of South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, and northern Wyoming. However, much of southern Wyoming and western Colorado had little to no precipitation and drought conditions persisted or worsened there. Colorado contended with high temperatures, little rainfall, and large wildfires and as of June 25th, 100 percent of the state was in the D1-D4 categories. Colorado was the only state in the Region which did not have any improvements this month. The large D4 area in eastern Colorado and western Kansas persisted as well. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released June 20th, some areas of drought in central South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas were expected to improve or be removed. Drought was expected to persist elsewhere through September 2013.

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