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Weather in Kansas

Many Kansans enjoy the state's distinct change of seasons and what was often described as a healthy climate. In the mid-1880s, a Kansas writer claimed that "God never favored man with a finer land, richer plains, more fertile valleys, clearer skies, [or] a more genial climate." Others insisted that increased settlement had favorably modified the climate, and that tornadic storms were less common and "we now have rain without thunder and lightning."

Despite this optimism, Kansas has not shaken its well-deserved reputation for extremes in climate and rapid (often violent) changes in the weather. Most Kansans are familiar with the expression, "if you don't like the weather, wait 'till tomorrow." Often, this is not an overstatement.

Dust storm


Although the most famous drought and subsequent dust storms occurred during the 1930s, drought and dust have long brought challenges to Kansans. A lack of moisture and hot, dry winds are a common climatic feature, especially in the western half of the state.





Too much rain, especially in the spring, has also caused suffering and loss at different times during the state's history. Communities in the eastern and central portions of the state are most at risk for flooding.



Tornado in Kiowa County

Although Kansas may not actually deserve its reputation as the "cyclone state," tornadic conditions have been a frequent occurrence with which Kansans have had to cope.



Hailstorms are another weather phenomenon of the Great Plains which have had devastating consequences for the region's inhabitants. Hail frequently accompanies the thunderstorms of the late spring and early summer, arriving at a time when crops are very vulnerable.





On occasion winter storms have also been a serious problem. Blizzards, especially in western Kansas can and have had fatal results for people and animals.



Other "forces of nature" which have affected Kansans over the years are not directly linked to the climate. Insect invasions, most notably the "hopper plagues," and fires, in particular those on the prairie, defeated many hard-working Kansas farmers and placed others in desperate situations.

Entry: Weather in Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 1969

Date Modified: July 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.