Category Archives: Drought

Governor makes changes to drought declaration for Kansas counties

Persistent rains in the eastern half of Kansas have prompted Governor Brownback to make changes to the drought declaration for the state.

For the first time since July 2012, conditions have improved enough to remove ore decrease the emergency drought status for some Kansas counties, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.
All 105 counties in Kansas were included in the emergency drought declaration in July 2012.

But 23 counties in Kansas – including Sedgwick, Harvey, Reno and Butler in the Wichita metropolitan area – have been removed from the drought declaration.

Executive Order 13-02 updates the drought declaration for Kansas counties.

“We are thankful recent rains have helped remove 23 counties from a drought designation,” Brownback said in the prepared statement. “Unfortunately, our state continues to battle drought as most of the state remains in some level of drought status.”

The update moves 20 counties into a warning status and 25 into a watch status. An emergency remains in effect for 37 counties in far western Kansas.

Some areas of western Kansas are behind more than 10 inches in soil moisture, said Tracy Streeter, director of the Kansas Water Office and chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

Counties still in emergency stage remain eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes. Emergency haying and grazing is also still available for those counties on a case-by-case request.

Drought Emergency:
Cheyenne, Clark, Decatur, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Lane, Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Russell, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, Wichita

Drought Warning:
Atchison, Barber, Comanche, Doniphan, Douglas, Edwards, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Jewel, Johnson, Kiowa, Leavenworth, Miami, Osage, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Shawnee, Wyandotte

Drought Watch:
Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Geary, Harper, Kingman, Lyon, Linn, Marshall, Mitchell, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Pottawatomie, Republic, Riley, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Woodson

When’s the best time to water your lawn in hot weather?

The National Weather Service branch in Goodland posted this reminder on its web page recently.

Folks in Wichita will want to be mindful of any restrictions put in place by the Wichita City Council.

Rainfall totals from Wichita area’s overnight thunderstorms

Raise your hand if you were awakened by the thunderstorms early Wednesday morning in the Wichita metropolitan area. I know I wasn’t alone.

Here’s a map showing rainfall totals as of 7 a.m. It was created by the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

Officially, Wichita recorded .58 of an inch from the overnight storm. That brings the precipitation for the year to 10.14 inches. That’s 1.92 inches above normal, according to meteorologist Ken Cook.

With rain possibilities in the forecast for the next several days, Wichita could see that total climb nicely.

But Cook added a note of perspective: last year at this same time, Wichita had recorded 13.38 inches.

“And then the rain shut off,” he said.

That set the stage for the flash drought that ravaged crops and prompted cities to set water use restrictions.

Dating back to 2010, Cook said, Wichita still has a precipitation deficit of more than 20 inches.

NOAA: Last year’s ‘flash drought’ not caused by global warming

A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed last year’s intense drought over much of the Great Plains was caused by naturally occurring variations in weather patterns.

The study rules out abnormal ocean temperatures and human-induced climate change as major culprits. Read more about the study’s results by clicking on this link.

Precipitation totals from over the weekend

The snow that fell this weekend in the Wichita area was a heavy, wet snow, forecasters say. That helped boost the moisture content – good news for an area still trying the free itself from the shackles of a long-term drought.

Southern Kansas still needs as much as 3 inches to ease the drought, according to the national drought monitor – though local forecasters say that the number is actually closer to 6 inches.

Shifting drought in Kansas

Take a look at the two drought maps below, and you’ll see a slight improvement in Kansas over the previous week.

But you’ll have to look hard to notice it.

Drought appears likely to persist through April

The latest drought outlook indicates dry conditions will persist or intensify through the end of April.

The Climate Prediction Center’s latest seasonal assessment is not optimistic for a large chunk of the country, either.

“During the upcoming three months, a much drier pattern is expected across the southern third of the nation (from central California to the eastern Gulf Coast). This limits the prospects for further drought improvements during the latter end of the wet season in California, Nevada, and western Arizona, and in fact increases the probabilities for drought development and deterioration in the tri-State area. This also marks a change from recent wet conditions in the southern Plains and western Gulf Coast as drought development and persistence is forecast for Texas by the end of April.”

December’s dry opening dozen days joins elite list

The 12 Days of Christmas may bring much variety to a true love, but the 12 days of December have been dry, dry, dry for Wichita.

It’s only the 10th time since records began being kept in 1888 that first 12 days of December saw no precipitation fall in Wichita, according to the local branch of the National Weather Service.

There were only two days of measurable precipitation in November – on the 10th and 11 – and the total of .55 was .88 of an inch below normal for the month.

Not counting days when a trace of rain fell, 59 of the last 61 days have lacked measurable precipitation in Wichita. The weather service recorded .08 on Oct. 13.

Wichita averages 32 inches of rain through mid-December, but has recorded less than 25 so far this year.

At long last, some meaningful rain for Wichita and Kansas

A storm system could bring several inches of rain to the Wichita metropolitan area through the weekend and into early next week, forecasters say.

Here’s a projection of rainfall totals by Tuesday morning, from the Hydrometeorological Predction Center of the National Weather Service.

That won’t be enough to end the drought, but it’s a nice first step.

The Arkansas River is now dry in Wichita

The National Weather Service branch in Wichita has posted photos of the dry Arkansas River bed near I-235 in west Wichita.

The river ran dry there for a few days last year, according to the weather service, but it’s not a common occurrence.

There is still water in the Ark near Maize, but it’s down to a record low level. The most recent USGS measurement taken today placed the flow at 0.45 cfs.