When we think of weather in the Midwest region of the United States, images of tornadoes and thunderstorms might come to mind. These powerful meteorological phenomena haunt our thoughts and remind us of little structures being lifted high into the sky like Dorothy’s fictional farmhouse in "The Wizard of OZ".
Yet between these violent outbursts, a much milder climatic ebb and flow exists. In the winter months of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, temperatures can range from 60+ degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and drop to well below freezing at night. Snowstorms come and go yet only occasionally leave accumulations.
The summer months often range into the high 90s to low 100s Fahrenheit. Please make sure you bring an adequate amount of water if planning to hike, wear appropriate clothing, use insect repellent and sun screen. There are water fountains available at the visitor center and at the restroom area near the barn. Bottles are sold at the visitor center for filling on-site.
Early morning hikes during summer are practical before temperatures become too hot. The prairie remains open 24/7, except in times of prescribed fire. A quick storm often produces lightning, which is dangerous in the open prairie. Please check in at the visitor center to get the most current weather forecast and do not hike when severe storms threaten.
The historic ranch buildings are open daily. Please be aware of slick surfaces during the winter months and use caution. Follow all safety signs. The house is climate controlled and is often a nice respite for both summer and winter weather conditions.
Prairie weather has a desert-like personality of opposing extremes. Wildlife and prairie flora have become accustomed to these harsh changes. It may come as a surprise to learn that several cactus and reptile species normally associated with desert climates thrive in this unique landscape.
Please visit the links below to see the current weather forecast at the preserve. Also, it is a good idea to check these links before hiking, as storms can produce severe conditions on the prairie. The open prairie does not offer much protection against hail or lightning.