Drought KO'd in Soggy Eastern Kansas

Kansas Viewpoint

More than 20 inches of rain turns drought into flood; western third of state still needs rain

Published on: August 18, 2013

For the first time in a month, there are no thunderstorms in the immediate forecast. Whew! We might actually get the yard cleaned up.

Traveling around central Kansas this week, the green is absolutely amazing and the Flint Hills are gorgeous. And drought, at least for now, appears conquered in the eastern two-thirds of the state.

With a couple of days of sunshine, we’re seeing the river flooding subside, though there are definitely producers who have lost some of their corn and soybean crop to flood waters in the last two weeks, although most producers are optimistic about the prospects for both corn and soybeans this fall.

High winds and hail have also been a problem in some areas of the state, adding downed tree limbs to the over-vegetative state of the countryside as urbanites like me try to keep up with lawn duty and farmers try to win the race against some of the fastest-growing weeks in history.

It’s hard to believe how much things have changed in the last six weeks. In early July, Kansas was experiencing spreading severe drought, the Ark River in Wichita was being mowed to cut down on riverbed debris and reservoirs were seriously depleted, raising fears about municipal water supplies.

As Aug. 19 dawns, there has been widespread flooding across Kansas, the Ark River in Wichita is spilling into the flood control waterway at 7,000 cubic feet per second and Cheney Reservoir is at 67% of flood pool while El Dorado is more than 30% of flood pool.

South central Kansas has received more than 20 inches of rain over the last month, wiping out the rainfall deficit that has steadily  mounted over the last two and half years and officially moving the area totally out of drought on the lastest U.S. Drought Monitor.

The western third of the state still needs rain desperately as persistent extreme and exceptional drought hangs on in spite of scattered rainfall that has helped in some areas.

Any rain at all in the arid High Plains is welcome news and a lot of farmers in that region are hoping to plant this fall’s wheat crop into a better water profile than they have seen for years. All in all, I’m feeling really optimistic about the end of a long and bitter drought.

Just back up the rains to the west, Mother Nature. Please.