Archive for Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rainy weather could signal easing of drought conditions

April 10, 2013


The idea that this week's rains signal some relief from the drought might not be purely wishful thinking.

Even if the showers stop after Wednesday night, as the local forecast suggests, and Lawrence finishes the week with not much more than an inch of rain, the region is trending wetter, according to climatologists at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.

Drought continues to plague much of the Midwest, but climatologists are projecting some relief in the coming months.

Drought continues to plague much of the Midwest, but climatologists are projecting some relief in the coming months.

In the short term, Lawrence collected a little more than a half-inch of rain on Sunday, followed by negligible amounts on Monday and Tuesday, and about a half-inch Wednesday. There's a chance for a little more rain Wednesday night, but that is likely to be the last of it this week, said Matt Wolpers, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Topeka.

Meanwhile, temperatures are forecast to drop to lows of 29 and 30 degrees on Thursday and Friday night before warming up to the 60s and 70s on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There is a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms on Sunday and Monday.

But even paltry rain this week may be a harbinger of wetter times to come, said Brian Fuchs, a Drought Mitigation Center climatologist. That should be good news for everyone, after almost the entire state was declared a federal disaster area in January because of the ongoing drought.

"It is easing," Fuchs said. "With drought, you typically are slow going in and slow getting out. It's going to take some time, but we are seeing some positives."

Weather patterns started swinging in our direction about two months ago, Fuchs said, with February's snows across the Midwest and the recent rains. Lawrence probably collected about 1 or 2 inches of water from all of those piles of snow, he said.

That still leaves Kansas about 16 inches below average rainfall for the last year, Fuchs said, but the longer-term models suggest more water coming in May and June.

Fuchs wasn't saying the drought would end any time soon. The best case scenario: Kansas could see moderate or severe drought conditions this summer instead of extreme drought. And even on that point, the climatologists in Nebraska are only cautiously optimistic.

"These forecasts are only accurate for about a few weeks out," Fuchs said. Last year's April was rainy, too, but the skies dried up in May and June and a long, hot, dry summer followed.

"If that happens again, we're going to be seeing really severe drought," he said.


Mark Newton 5 years, 2 months ago

Gotta love weathermen. It's been raining. It may rain again later. Then again it may not.

Should have been a weatherman.

Jeff Bandle 5 years, 2 months ago

I was wondering the same thing..our rain gauge showed just a hair over an inch.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's the graphic you should have used in the link toward the end of the article that actually shows the 3 month forecast:

Forecast thru June

Forecast thru June by Ken Lassman

As anyone who follows the weather knows, even tho the first 3 months have had climatically normal amounts of precipitation this year, all it takes is a couple of weeks without rain to put us back into a drought.

Michael LoBurgio 5 years, 2 months ago

7 States Running Out Of Water

The United States is in the midst of one of the biggest droughts in recent memory. At last count, over half of the lower 48 states had abnormally dry conditions and are suffering from at least moderate drought.

More than 80 percent of seven states were as of last week in “severe drought,” characterized by crop or pasture loss, water shortage and water restrictions. Depending on whether the hardest-hit regions see significant precipitation, crops yields could fall and drought conditions could persist for months to come. Based on the latest data provided by the U.S. Drought Monitor, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven states running out of water.

  1. Kansas
    Pct. of state in severe drought: 96.4% Pct. of state in extreme drought: 64.6% (3rd highest) Pct. of state in exceptional drought: 21.4% (2nd highest)

Severe drought conditions persist in more than 96% of Kansas. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of the state is experiencing extreme drought, while more than one-fifth is experiencing exceptional drought. The good news for Kansas is that rain in March has eased the drought, although National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Kleinsasser told the Associated Press earlier this week that the state is still experiencing “precipitation deficits” of as much as 20 inches in many parts of the state. Kansas produces about 20% of the nation’s wheat, more than any other state. Wheat production was up 38% in 2012 compared to 2011, although the drought affecting the state probably will make this level of production unsustainable for 2013.

Read more: The Seven States Running Out of Water - 24/7 Wall St.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 2 months ago

It's improved slightly in today's report on the drought monitor: 99.96% of the state in moderate or worse drought; "only" 90.4% is in severe or worse drought; "only" 64% in extreme drought or worse; "only" 16.87% in exceptional drought.

Not pretty, but at least we're moving in the right direction. This last few day's rain will make next Thursday's report even better, with the mitigating trend continuing.

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