Light rain showers that have teased the Lawrence area with little moisture are just a drop in the bucket compared to a rain storm expected to hit Lawrence on Wednesday.
Mark Bogner, a forecaster with the Kansas University Weather Service, said today that a fairly strong storm system creeping up from New Mexico is headed for Lawrence and should arrive sometime Wednesday. Along its path the storm is large amounts of rain, moisture it picked up while forming above the Pacific Ocean, Bogner said.
At the same time, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is heading toward Lawrence, giving the area a much needed chance for rain.
"I hate to say it, but this is probably the best chance we've had for rain in two years," Bogner said.
BOGNER SAID the storm headed this way has the same basic makeup of a winter snow storm, but warm temperatures will produce rain instead. The small amounts of rain that fell on the Lawrence area Sunday and Monday are only on the leading edge of the slow-moving, eastbound storm, he said.
And if rain amounts received in other areas are any indication, much of the state stands a good chance to receive significant rainfall, Bogner said.
For example, Garden City received several inches of rain this morning as the leading edge of the storm passed it, Bogner said. What follows is expected to bring much more.
"It looks very promising," Bogner said. "We stand a very good chance to get some real moisture."
AND REAL moisture is exactly what area farmers have needed for the past two years.
Jack Lindquist, Douglas County agriculture extension agent, said today that he is waiting to see how much rain the storm brings before he gets too excited. Lindquist did say that if the rain is on its way, he would welcome it.
Rain is desperately needed to restore the area's subsoil moisture content, which was depleted through two years of drought conditions in much of the county, he said.
The area hit hardest by the drought is a V-shaped region roughly from Lecompton, southeast to Pleasant Grove, and northeast to Eudora, Lindquist said.
LINDQUIST said the area needs to exceed normal rainfall amounts each month to catch up on the subsoil moisture deficit left behind by the drought.
The rain also is needed to help defend the area from a dangerously high potential of large chinch bug populations this year, Lindquist said. Chinch bugs thrive on moisture stored by area crops, he said.
The potential for large chinch bug populations is so high that Lindquist is advising area farmers in the drought-stricken part of the county not to plant grain sorghums if rains do not fall. Instead, he is suggesting alternative crops more tolerant of the bugs.
Moisture causes a lethal fungus to grow on the bugs.