Update (1:05 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9):
Some updates to this piece with Thursday's gusher added in:
» As of this writing, North Platte now has 22.68 inches of precipitation for the year, a massive 7.98 inches ahead of our normal pace and the fourth-wettest period from Jan. 1 to Aug. 8 since 1875. Ahead of this year are 1951 (27.51), 1915 (26.55) and 1905 (23.36).
» As you'll see from the story charts at the left, Thursday's 2.11 inches of rain didn't crack the top 10 daily precipitation events for North Platte.
» Nonetheless, we're a lot closer now to breaking into the top 10 all-time years for annual precipitation here. We now need just 3.65 more inches from today (Friday) to New Year's Eve to reach the No. 10 spot. The No. 1 spot -- the 33.44 inches for all of 1951 -- is 10.76 inches away.
» Could we get to the top spot? Well, we did get 11.42 inches just two years ago between Aug. 9 and Dec. 31. We had 12.57 inches for the same period in 1877 (the record) and 12.20 inches in 1906. Those are the only three times we've gotten that much, though.
» But after yesterday, our chances of cracking the top 10 for annual precipitation this year are actually quite good.
As the original story says (see below), we were nearly 6 inches short (5.7 inches, to be exact) of the No. 10 spot as of Wednesday. Between Aug. 8 (Thursday) and Dec. 31, we've gotten 6 inches or more only one-third of the time since 1875. But from Aug. 9 to New Year's Eve, we've gotten 3.65 inches or more nearly 70% of the time since North Platte has been keeping weather records.
Naturally, the skies could dry up starting today. But a couple more storms like Thursday's will put us in the top 10 list for sure.
It’s been a wet year, for sure, but not an exceptionally hot spring and summer thus far in North Platte in 2019.
It’s going to have to get a lot hotter to crack the city’s top-10 record books for high temperatures, based on 145 years’ worth of North Platte weather data stored at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s High Plains Regional Climate Center.
What about precipitation? There’s a better chance there for a top-10 finish — if the rain and (in time) the snow keep coming.
It certainly did Thursday afternoon, when the skies outside The Telegraph let loose with yet another brisk rainstorm as these words were being written.
According to the National Weather Service, that afternoon storm dumped just over 2 inches of rain at Lee Bird Field, with 1.67 inches of that falling in the first hour. Flooding made some streets and parking lots around town impassable.
Thursday’s 24-hour rainfall through midnight won’t be known until today, though.
Let’s talk temperatures first.
Though the story could change any day over at least the next month, North Platte’s hottest day of 2019 — 102 degrees on July 18 — isn’t even close to the city’s worst scorchers.
A 112-degree reading on July 11, 1954, still holds the crown among temperatures recorded within the city (1874-1948) or at the North Platte Regional Airport at Lee Bird Field (1948-present).
The city’s runner-up high reading remains the 109 degrees notched on July 24, 1940. The rest of the top 10 is taken up by no fewer than eight days of 108-degree readings, including three during the 1930s “Dust Bowl” droughts and three since the turn of the millennium.
It’s already virtually certain that 2019 will fall well short of record territory for the number of days with highs of 90 or more.
With only 18 such days this year as of Wednesday, North Platte would have to reach at least 90 every day for 42 more days — six full weeks — just to tie 1980’s 60 days for the No. 10 spot.
We’ve got more potential “Why, back in 2019 ...” coffee-shop talk when it comes to precipitation.
Between New Year’s Day and Wednesday, Lee Bird Field recorded 20.57 inches of precipitation in either rain or snow. That’s tied for sixth all-time for that period since North Platte’s first full year of precipitation readings in 1875.
All but 0.13 inches of this year’s precipitation has fallen since Valentine’s Day, when a dry early winter gave way to a snowy finish and frequent rains and thunderstorms since.
North Platte was 7.95 inches ahead of its average annual precipitation as of Thursday evening, according to the Lee Bird Field office of the National Weather Service.
So we’re a shoo-in for the precipitation record books this year, right?
Not so fast.
If North Platte records about 6 more inches between Thursday and New Year’s Eve, 2019 would claim the No. 10 all-time spot and have an outside chance at claiming ninth or even eighth. (Thursday’s rains took at least one-third out of that figure.)
But don’t hold your breath: Total precipitation from Aug. 8 to Dec. 31 has fallen short of the 6-inch mark two out of every three years since North Platte has kept records.
Even so, we’ve had some real gullywashers this year, you say?
Not record-setters, at least not yet.
North Platte’s heaviest daily 2019 rainfall prior to Thursday — a 2.82-inch cloudburst on July 21 — still trailed the July days in 1879 and 1964 currently tied for No. 9 with 3.15 inches.
To find out where Thursday’s storm ranked, check the webpages for the High Plains climate center (climod.unl.edu) or the weather service’s Lee Bird Field office (weather.gov/lbf).