This week’s rainfall could improve moisture levels, reduce fire risks

Wednesday morning’s rains brought some much-needed moisture to Lawrence and Douglas County.

A cluster of thunderstorms from the southwest and moving northeast across the county brought just under an inch of rain to Lawrence, said Bill Gargan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Topeka office.

The rains started at about 4 a.m. Wednesday and had finished shortly after 8:30 a.m. Forecasts call for more rain tonight and later in the week. The chance for rain tonight could reach 70 percent, according to the weather service. Gargan said average rainfall across the area could reach about half an inch.

That’s likely welcome news for county farmers. The county, along with much of central and eastern Kansas, is listed as experiencing moderate drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly map of drought conditions produced by federal agencies and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The rain could also lower fire risks for the area. While the area is still considered very dry by the weather service’s fire danger outlook reports, “that could change as we get greener grass with the warmer temperatures, and with the rainfall,” Gargan said.