Jet streams in Pacific are behind cold spring rain, sleet we saw today

By Corene Brisendine

Manhattan residents will continue seeing colder spring rains such as hit the area overnight this year.

“These spring events can go back and forth between rain and snow,” said Kansas Climatologist Mary Knapp. “This is very typical of a late [spring] precipitation event.”

The storm brought only light and quickly melting snow to Manhattan, but left up to an inch of ground-cover in other parts of the area. Although the snow has been taken out of the forecast, sleet and rain were still expected throughout the day, she said.

Knapp said activity in the Pacific Ocean and the jet stream are creating the cold spring storms. She said in the Pacific an event known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation — a variable atmospheric movement above the warm parts of the Indian and Pacific oceans that shows up as unusual rainfall— is causing more frequent storms across the U.S. That coupled with the jet stream dipping lower than normal has brought more Arctic air down into the Great Plains, which has caused the storms to be colder.

She said Alaska is also experiencing one of its coldest Springs on record, meaning the air being pushed down by the jet stream is cooled even more.

She said normal temperatures should be returning this weekend and mid-week, but the prospect of colder, more frequent storms will continue.

Knapp said this storm is better for the soil than the one last week because it is a slow-moving storm with a slower-soaking rain, which is good news for local farmers.

Overnight, Manhattan received 1.41 inches, which has created a 1.13 surplus for the month of May. Rainfall is 1.28 inches above average for the year, with a total of 8.93 inches to date.

As for temperatures, it is shaping to be within normal range. Yesterday’s record low was in 2005 at a frigid 28 degrees.

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