Archive for Sunday, August 27, 2006

Despite storms, state needs more rain to refresh dry areas

August 27, 2006


— Storms that swept through much of Kansas on Friday and earlier last week helped drought-stricken areas, but more rain would be needed to relieve the parched state, authorities said.

The National Weather Service said up to 4 inches of rain hit much of Kansas, particularly central and southeast sections, overnight Friday and early Saturday. More rain was forecast for Saturday through Monday.

But Charlie Perry, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said more rain was necessary because of the extended drought.

"It takes more than one rain and runoff period to get back to normal flows," Perry said. "It takes two or three months to build that back up."

Thanks to rain also earlier this week, the Arkansas River roared back with its banks nearly two-thirds full. The river had been reduced to a trickle from the summer's triple-digit temperatures and no rain. In some places, water levels barely reached above ankle deep.

"The rains were a blessing for sure," said LeRoy Mathis, who at age 64 has lived by the Arkansas River south of Sterling most of his life.

The worst drought to hit the state in years reduced the river's flow to an average 58.3 cubic feet per second for July, marking a record low for the month, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Increased irrigation pumping and lack of rain contributed to low flows for much of the state's rivers, Perry said.

But on Friday river flow hit 2,410 cubic feet per second in Nickerson and 1,120 cfs east of Hutchinson, the survey reported. Minimum desirable stream flow for August is 80 cfs at the Hutchinson gage, and the monthly mean averages around 480 cfs.

About 2 inches of rain across Reno County last weekend helped flows. Moisture farther upstream also helped, with some places in western Kansas receiving up to 7 inches.

Other streams also were benefiting from the storms, Perry said. The Walnut Creek at Albert in Rush County had levels reaching just 6 feet below flood stage.


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