The weather is giving Kansans whiplash this year

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The ground is so saturated with water in much of Kansas flooding remains a serious concern and dirt roads have become dangerous. The ground is so saturated with water in much of Kansas flooding remains a serious concern and dirt roads have become dangerous.
Deep ruts in the road show where cars have gotten stuck on a soaked dirt road in Saline County, just north of I-70 on Wednesday. March 13, 2019. Deep ruts in the road show where cars have gotten stuck on a soaked dirt road in Saline County, just north of I-70 on Wednesday. March 13, 2019.
The owner of the KOA Campground north of Salina has surrounded his offices with a stone, plastic, wood and sand barrier.  It takes him about six hours to put the barrier up.  Turns out, he didn't need it on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The owner of the KOA Campground north of Salina has surrounded his offices with a stone, plastic, wood and sand barrier. It takes him about six hours to put the barrier up. Turns out, he didn't need it on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
On Interstate 70 at Salina, a sign warns drivers the highway is closed west from Limon, Colorado, due to winter weather on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. On Interstate 70 at Salina, a sign warns drivers the highway is closed west from Limon, Colorado, due to winter weather on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
SALINA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"It's just kind of a weird thing, we're going right from blizzards to floods, into tornado season," said Bernie Botson, deputy director of the Saline County Emergency Management Office.

In Saline County, there was a sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon from folks like Daryle Schweret.  In the morning, he was rushing to protect his business from predicted record level flooding.  Six hours of work that was no longer needed.

"I'd rather be safe than sorry," Schweret said.  "Even though I've got flood insurance, I'd rather not use it."

The giant storm closing Interstate 70 in Colorado and threatening blizzard conditions in Western Kansas didn't drop as much rain in Salina as expected.

Man injured when wind topples tree in southeast Wichita

Folks still have to be careful though about where they drive or walk because the ground is soaked.

"This year has been wetter.  I mean, the fall was wetter and starting in the spring has been wetter," said Schweret.  "Whenever it rained it was going to run off into the streams and creeks and rivers.  But, I don't know, a couple years ago we were fighting drought."

The ground so soaked that most of the dirt roads have become impassible.

"Even the roads that aren't closed when wet are suspect," said Botson. 

The mud is so thick, walkers can sink in up to their ankles.  Over the last few days, the county has had to call for a tow several times as drivers have gotten stuck.

"I guess they figure, 'I've got 4-wheel drive.'  Which really doesn't matter in that...(the mud) goes right to the axles," Botson said.

At the Emergency Management Office they've already put blizzards, flooding and mud behind them and are hard at work preparing for tornado season.  They expect this year's severe weather will be worse thanks to all that water in the ground.

"We have been blessed with a lot of moisture.  And having that moisture available in the soil for evapotransportation during the spring could also be interpreted as additional fuel for severe thunderstorms during our peak season," said Jay Prater, KAKE Managing Meteorologist. 

Which is why the Saline County Emergency Management Office is making sure everything's ready to go to keep residents safe this storm season.

"What we're working on right now is having our yearly maintenance done to all our outdoor warning sirens," Botson explained.  The CERT team has already inspected all its gear for the year.  "We don't know what's going to happen.  But, here in our office, there's an added sense of urgency."

Botson says they advise Kansans to always have at least three ways to get storm warnings, such as the outdoor sirens, a weather app like KAKE's and a weather radio.  On April 2nd, Prater will be in Salina to help you program those weather radios.

"It's never what you want!," said Schweret about the weather. Then he shrugged.  "Living in Kansas, you're kind of used to that."

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

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