Archive for Saturday, August 19, 2006

Statewide drought warning urged

August 19, 2006


— Kansas officials are recommending a statewide drought warning be issued.

"We've had summers that have been hotter and drier than this one, but what really stands out this year is that there have been a record number of streamflows below normal," said Hank Ernst, a spokesman for the Kansas Water Office, which is part of the Drought Response Team.

The recommendation of the team will next go to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who will probably accept it on Monday after an official report is filed, her spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said Friday.

"She is very concerned about the extended drought and high temperatures," Corcoran said.

Sebelius had called for a meeting of the Response Team to review actions the government could take to respond to the drought.

A drought warning means that there are some public water supply shortages, crop or pasture losses are likely, and there is a high potential of rangeland fires.

Before the meeting, northeast Kansas, including Douglas County, and east-central Kansas had been excluded from the warning. But officials said that dry conditions warranted extending the warning statewide.

"It's unusual to have the entire state in drought conditions," said State Climatologist Mary Knapp.

"Conditions are a little bit better in the western part of the state than, say, a year ago, but they are still in extreme drought.

"On the other side of the coin, areas that were favorably moist a year ago are in the moderate drought category," Knapp said.

Record low streamflows, especially around Salina and southeast Kansas, low crop and soil moisture levels are all indications of the drought, she said.

"Any of the gauges you use to measure the intensity of drought are fairly strong," she said.

A good indication of the dry conditions, Knapp said, was that a four-inch rain last weekend near Manhattan raised King's Creek momentarily, but once the rain stopped the streamflow disappeared.

She said recent rains have helped but added, "we would need to have above normal rains for a considerable period of time to address the underlying hydrological conditions."

In Salina, officials have instituted water conservation measures by restricting lawn watering.

But even with the dry conditions, Ernst said Douglas County is in good shape as far as municipal drinking water is concerned because of Clinton Lake and Perry Lake.

He said the declaration of a drought stage provides local communities an additional heads-up on conditions and how they may respond.


oldgoof 11 years, 9 months ago

How many politicians does it take to sit around a table and conclude that Kansas is hot and dry?

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