Kansas climate guide

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The climate guide for Kansas shows long term monthly weather averages processed from data supplied by CRU (University of East Anglia), the Met Office & the Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Find out more about our data sources.

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Kansas climate overview

Named after the Kansas River, Kansas lies literally in the centre of the so-called 'lower 48' states of the United States. In the nineteenth century wagon trains rolled through here on their way west on the Santa Fe Trail across what was then almost entirely grass covered prairie. Today most of the land is under cultivation as Kansas is one of the nation's leading agricultural states. Long known as the Wheat State, nearly 20 percent of the population are employed in jobs related to agriculture.

The landscape of Kansas is basically flat, rising gradually from east to west. Eastern Kansas, the most populated area of the state, has hills, ridges, river valleys, woods and farmland. Oak, walnut, and maple trees grow here as well as the ubiquitous cottonwood, and the largest remaining remnants of true tall-grass prairie can also be found. Rainfall in the east is usually twice that of the west, with most falling between April and August, sometimes as heavy thundershowers or hailstorms. Light snowfalls occur in winter.

Western Kansas consists of vast treeless regions with shallow gullies known as 'The Great Plains', a short-grass prairie. Here rainfall is far more variable from year to year, with droughts sometimes creating dust-bowl conditions. Buffalo grass is native in the west and central areas, but the most common sight is endless miles of wheat fields.

Over the whole state the climate is mid-latitude, with cold winters and hot summers. Except in the south. winter temperatures are generally below freezing, with warm to hot conditions prevailing in summer.

Kansas is at the heart of so called 'Tornado Alley' where, particularly in the central part of the state, the risks of encountering one are highest from March to June.

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