Despite Recent Rain, Drought Persists

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email
Western Kansas has missed out on most of this week

Harry & Seneca in southwest Wichita

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Thursday, May 29, 2013

Despite heavy rain and flash flooding in parts of Kansas Thursday, drought conditions will persist across the state. Some areas, however, will likely see some slight improvement.

Heavy rain and street flooding Thursday morning were a bit misleading. That early morning excess of water was not enough to make up for a long-term shortage of rainfall across most of Kansas.

"It's hard for people to realize that -- even though you can have some localized flooding today -- that you are still in the middle of a long-term drought," KAKE Managing Meteorologist Jay Prater said.

Plus, if all the rain needed falls during one storm, it does not do any good.

"This is going to run off and if it doesn't run off into the basins that lead to our reservoirs, it's going somewhere else and we don't get the advantage of it," Prater said.

The Wichita area will see some advantage from this week's rain. Cheney Reservoir rose more than a foot Thursday. However, the lake is still about 68 percent of its normal level.

State Climatologist Mary Knapp said even south-central Kansas will still likely be in a drought when next week's U.S. drought monitor report is compiled.

"That means moving up from extreme to severe and severe to moderate," Knapp said.

Western Kansas -- by far the part of the state in most desperate need of rain -- has received hardly any moisture from recent storms. Some of the damage inflicted by this drought may take years to repair.

"It will take time for vegetation in particular to recover from that," Knapp said. "When you're talking pasture land, it may take two or three years."

The only thing that will help is a change in long-term weather patterns.

"It took us years to get into the drought; it will take us months to years to get back out," Prater said.

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