More rain in forecast before weather pattern starts to change next week

The welcome sunshine that Lawrence residents woke to Saturday morning will return sporadically through the Memorial Day weekend, but so will the rains that have visited northeast Kansas throughout May.

The latest storm that moved through the area Friday evening and early Saturday morning produced widely varying amounts of rainfall, said Chad Omitt, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Topeka. As much as 2 inches of rainfall was reported just south of Baldwin City, but only 3/10 of an inch of rain was recorded at Lawrence Municipal Airport, he said. More rain is forecast for Saturday evening and Sunday morning as thunderstorms that develop in southwest Kansas move to the northeast, he said.

“We’re looking at widespread rain of from 1 to 2 inches,” he said. “It will be the same story on Sunday and Monday morning.”

Omitt said, however, that the storms that would develop Sunday in southwest Kansas were predicted to produce their heaviest rainfall early Monday morning northeast of Lawrence, sparing the city and Douglas County another soaking.

Monday and Tuesday will be dry before another round of thunderstorms fires up Tuesday evening. Those storms will be typical Kansas springtime supercells, he said, and will bring a chance for severe weather.

The good news, Omitt said, is that those storms will mark at least a temporary end to the persistent weather pattern of low pressure over the Rocky Mountains and high pressure over the U.S. Southeast that has produced so much rain in eastern Kansas during the last six weeks.

The NWS weather station in Topeka — which, unlike the Lawrence airport weather station, is an official NWS station — has recorded 6 inches of rain in May and 17.92 inches of total precipitation for 2019, Omitt said. Those totals are five inches above normal for the month and six inches above normal for the year, he said.

Fortunately, the Delaware River watershed that feeds Perry Lake escaped the heaviest rain from the storm on Friday and Saturday, Omitt said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Friday it might start releasing as much as 20,000 cubic feet per second of water from the lake as early as Saturday morning should heavy rains fall in the watershed. As of Friday, the lake’s elevation was 917.48 feet above sea level, which is very near its 920-foot flood level.

A Saturday morning post on the Army Corps of Engineers’ Perry Lake Facebook page said the Corps was not discharging water from the lake at that time, but it was closely monitoring conditions at the dam to ensure its integrity.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers website, Clinton Lake’s elevation Saturday was 891.6 feet, or more than 19 feet below its flood level.


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