Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kansas escapes flood conditions - for now

June 18, 2008


Mary Knapp looks at the numbers and feels a bit fortunate.

That's because Kansas' state climatologist knows that the main force protecting the Kansas River valley from torrential rains and widespread flooding is a persistent bubble of high pressure lingering in the southeastern United States.

Were that bubble to expand a little, or shift a few hundred miles to the west, then moisture from the Gulf of Mexico suddenly would find itself flowing up a chute through Texas and Arkansas - laying the foundation for storm after storm after storm, just like what already has riddled much of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Knapp isn't about to forecast whether that might happen closer to home.

"You never want to tempt Mother Nature like that," said Knapp, from her office at Kansas State University in Manhattan. "It's just too early to tell."

Folks seeing reports of widespread flooding, overtopped levees, ineffectual sandbags and hundreds of displaced residents and businesses in states to the east don't need to think back all that far to recall it happening in Kansas.

That came in 1993, when persistent, heavy rains in July left many counties enduring four times their normal loads of precipitation.

This year: Who knows?

"We're on the knifeblade," Knapp said. "If we get a normal July, we're OK. Even if we get a slightly above-normal July, we'll just be having a wet year.

"It would take a significantly wetter July : and we're not anywhere close to getting five times our normal June precipitation."

For the record, the state's 14-county east-central region - which includes Douglas, Shawnee, Johnson and Franklin counties - has averaged 4.81 inches of rain so far this month, or 169 percent of the normal average of 2.83 inches.

Tom Morey, state coordinator for the National Flood Insurance Program, noted that this year's storms had tended to concentrate rain in relatively specific areas, while the '93 storms struck wide areas for days at a time.

But he warns against shrugging off the '93 flooding as a once-in-a-lifetime event. Kansas' neighboring states are grappling with the effects of weather patterns and resulting storms that just as easily could have hit points farther west.

And, conceivably, still could.

"We're still at risk," said Morey, who oversees programs that provide $1.6 billion in insurance coverage in Kansas. "If we have a major thunderstorm and enough water falls, we'll see the impacts of flooding, I'm sure."

Google Map

2008 Midwest Floods

View Larger Map

Blue pins indicate areas that have already been flooded. The red line shows where levees are in danger of being overtopped.


hail2oldku 9 years, 9 months ago

The reservoirs will certainly need to be doing their jobs since they'll be holding a little extra for a while. There won't be as much discharge right now with the Mississippi above flood stage through Missouri. We're going to have to contain as much as we can to allow that to ease up before we start charging the Mo River from the Kaw.

shlomoek 9 years, 9 months ago

I hope the levees and reservoirs are all working in top form if a 30 foot high Kansas is rolling at over 100,000 cfs.

booklover 9 years, 9 months ago

Google Maps is OK but you never know how long it's been since they have last updated. You can also try the library if you just want to look at one for free.If you want to purchase a really good one go to the KS Geological Survey site

morganlefay 9 years, 9 months ago

Flooding is an issue in kansas EVERY year in some communities. The LJW just needs to take a closer look to Leavenworth county to see this. There's a community of Easton and several of it's residents are affected by flooding numerous times every year. Why are these families not making the front page?! Flooding has taken out our well, driveway, and vehicles before. Just several years ago we lost 2 vehicles and I almost died in a flash flood along a creek in Easton. Every time it storms, we worry if we're gonna be able to go to work the next day or even leave our property. Just last week alone, I had to miss 2 days of work because of flooding. But the major flood damage in our county is never worth the millions of $$ needed for FEMA aid. During our last "100 year flood" the residents in kansas got the shaft. The whole system is corrupt and families who need help are left up sh!t creek without a paddle, literally!

monkeyspunk 9 years, 9 months ago

Call the GIS department at Douglas County, they may have something they can email you. Worth a shot.

lastcall4oh 9 years, 9 months ago

The Kansas Geological Survey has a website with all the topographic maps (and other good data). It is run through DASC (Data Access and Support Center). Go to

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