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Archive for Saturday, July 15, 2000

Midwest drought conditions letting up

July 15, 2000

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— Recent rains have confirmed what many suspected: Reports of an expected drought in Missouri and Kansas may be all wet.

A government sponsored survey released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed significant improvements in both states, with dry areas from central Nebraska and north-central Kansas to the east receiving at least an inch of rain in the last week.

Drought conditions have also eased across much of the central United States, the report showed.

Since June 1, the Kansas City area has received about 9.4 inches of rain, nearly three inches more than normal, according to the National Weather Service.

"We've seen a remarkable turnaround," said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb. "In some areas, there's too much rain."

Weather patterns didn't materialize as expected, Svoboda said. Moisture flowed up from the Gulf of Mexico, and cold fronts from the northwest came through and triggered storms, he said.

Still, many farms in western Kansas and the Missouri Bootheel remain dry. But most farmers and other agriculture officials were sounding encouraged.

"We feel much better," said Kyle Vickers, deputy director of the Missouri Agriculture Department.

Crops look good, as do farm ponds, he said. Most Missouri towns are maintaining adequate water supplies.

Prospects for drought haven't passed completely. Soil moisture levels aren't where they should be, Vickers said, and there's plenty of summer left to dry up crops and water supplies.

"The big question is what does the rest of the summer hold?" Vickers said.

Recent heavy rains have helped reverse drought-like conditions. In Springfield, Mo., 6 inches of rain hit the southern sections of the city this week and caused serious flooding.

In northeast Kansas, rains dumping as much as 5 inches of water near the Delaware River eased a shortage on the Kickapoo Indian Reservation.

A state-imposed drought watch remains for the Upper Republican and Solomon River basins in northwest and north-central Kansas.

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