The Lawrence area will escape a fierce snowstorm that socked western Kansas with up to 10 inches of snow, forecasters say.
In fact, the area should be fairly mild until colder northern air is expected to pour into the area over the weekend.
Paul Frantz, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said today that the system which dumped snow in western Kansas had taken a southern turn and should dip into Oklahoma, leaving the Lawrence area unscathed.
However, Frantz said the Lawrence area stood a slight chance of rain today, tonight and Thursday. Snow is not in the forecast.
Frantz said the western part of the state received snow while the eastern half did not because of air moving over the Rocky Mountains. As the air is lifted and cooled, it releases moisture in the form of either rain or snow, depending on local temperatures, which were cold enough to produce snow in the western part of the state.
THE NWS was predicting slight chances of rain, which it said would produce only small amounts of moisture in the area.
Lawrence received more rain than normal in January, but is lagging behind normal February rainfall amounts.
According to records at the Kansas University Weather Service, the Lawrence area received 1.49 inches of rain in January, a typically dry month, but has recieved only .47 of an inch for the month of February, when 1.25 inches of rain normally falls.
Local agriculture officials say recent moisture has helped the drought-stricken area, but say more rain is needed to improve conditions.
Jack Lindquist, Douglas County agriculture extension agent, said today that the area must begin to receive above-normal rainfall on a regular basis soon or farmers will be forced to prepare for more drought conditions.
THE LAWRENCE area was 13 inches short of normal rainfall in 1988 and was left more than four inches shy of average moisture in 1989, according to records.
Lindquist said severe damage can result if that pattern is not broken.
"The next 45 days is going to be crucial because that is when we receive most of our spring rains," he said. "If we miss out on that, we're looking at a difficult season. We need to receive above-normal amounts to help replace the deficit."
Lindquist said farmers need rains on a regular basis to help restore subsoil moisture amounts that were severely reduced by the past two years of drought.
Farmers can prepare for drought conditions by adjusting their crops' growing seasons and shortening them by planting and harvesting earlier.
THE KU WEATHER Service is calling for a low temperature tonight of 33 degrees and a slight chance of rain. Thursday should bring a high of 50 and a chance of rain early. Rain leaves the forecast Thursday night, which should see a low of 20 degrees. Friday's high is predicted to be 42 while Saturday and Sunday should see highs in the 30s and lows in the teens.
The cooler temperatures are a result of cold Canadian air moving into the area, forecasters said.