After a mass of polar air swept through the area over the last couple of weeks, setting record lows in Manhattan, warm winds from the south this week ushered in clear skies and much higher temperatures.
For the week of Feb. 17-23, the lowest reading in the state was -28 degrees on Feb. 17 and the highest was 88 on Tuesday, a 116-degree difference. In Manhattan, the city reached a low of -18 degrees on Feb. 16 and a high of 72 on Tuesday.
“The extremes were probably a little bit wider than we typically see, but we are moving into the spring season and that’s what we get quite often, those really big temperature swings,” K-State Climatologist Mary Knapp said. “... Part of the reason is we’ve got a very dry air mass in place and that allows those very large temperature swings to occur. Last night, the (southerly) wind started shifting to the north and now we’re getting a northern blast so that gave us our range.”
Local forecasts predict milder temperatures for the next week, with highs ranging around 50-60 degrees and lows around 25-30 degrees. Knapp said the previous week had 30-degree departures from normal temperatures, but this week is closer to a difference of about 11 degrees.
“(Tuesday) was warmer than normal but overall for February, looking at the 24th, the high on the 23rd was 72 and our low was 31 (Wednesday morning),” she said. “That’s warmer than normal by about 25 degrees for the average temperature for the day. Even with that, our average for the month of February is 19.4 degrees and the normal would be 33.3 degrees.”
Knapp said the area may see more precipitation in the beginning of March, rather than the drier pattern it has been getting.
“That carries out through March 9 although the area of wetness pulls back a little bit,” Knapp said. “We’re on the western edge of the chances for above normal precipitation.”
She said Manhattan would typically expect to see 5/100ths of an inch of precipitation a day at the beginning of March, but by the end of the month, that amount would double to about 10/100ths of an inch a day.
Knapp said people should double check their emergency preparedness plans to ensure they’re up-to-date and things like shelters would still be accessible while minding COVID safety.