Drought will persist through the summer in Kansas
By Doug Rich
Although the drought is beginning to break down in southern Texas, Kansas will experience another year of drought, according to David Relihan, WIBW chief meteorologist. Relihan was a featured speaker at the Kansas Commodity Classic held Jan. 16 in Manhattan, Kan.
"This spring there will be some rain; we won't go from now through June without any precipitation," Relihan said. "However, it will not be excessive. It will be enough to sustain a wheat crop but it is the fall crops that will be in trouble again."
Relihan said the rain will shut off as early as mid-June in Kansas. A weather system will return in July and August that is similar to last year minus the triple-digit heat.
"July and August will be very, very stressful for fall crops," Relihan said.
Relihan said the precipitation will not be what we need but it will be better than last year. This drought has not run its course yet.
Relihan said the current drought started several years ago in west Texas. In 2010 portions of the southwest Kansas began to experience the drought as it spread northward from Texas. From October 2010 to September 2011 many areas in southwestern Kansas picked up less than seven inches of rain and some areas reported only four inches of rain. The drought continued to expand exponentially from 2010 to 2012.
"There were a lot of similarities between 1980 and 2012," Relihan said. "But there were some differences."
Relihan said the high pressure that dominated the mid-section of the country last year was not as strong as 1980. Last year the high-pressure ridge moved around. Relian said every time this high-pressure system moved south there was a chance for rain in Kansas but the available moisture supply was minimal.
"The end result was that whenever a weather system moved through it had very little moisture to work with," Relihan said.
Another problem was that these systems moved through too early in the day and moved through to quickly to create any rainfall. The end result was many days of 100 degree heat and very little in the way of precipitation. Now Kansas is left with a totally depleted soil moisture profile.
This was a massive drought in terms of the area involved. Relihan said large droughts like this one do not go away quickly, but there are signs that the southern edge of this drought is beginning to break down. Kansas will begin to move away from this drought by 2014.
"Hopefully, in the course of the next two and half years we will see that work its way to the northern end of the drought area that is now in the Dakotas," Relihan said.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.