The Heat Goes On

Kansas Viewpoint

Just about everything is wilting and there's no end in sight

Published on: August 1, 2011
Blistering Kansas was supposed to get a "respite" Sunday from 100-degree heat, with a forecast high of "only" 96. It hit 101.

Things heated up more today, topping out at 108 and Tuesday is expected to be hotter still with highs around 112. That's air temperature for the folks accustomed to talk about "heat index."

The stats for July were tallied over the weekend, making it officially the second hottest July on record, with an average temperature of 89.3 degrees, topped only by the heat of July, 1980, when the average temperature was 90.4. That's average temperature, not average high.

 The month saw at least 100-degree heat on 24 of July's 31 days, a tie for the record with 1980. With 11 days in June hitting 100 and the earliest ever 100-degree day on May 9 this year, 2011 so far has racked up 36 days above 100 degrees. The record is 50 days in 1936. We still have all of August -- our traditionally hottest month -- to go.

I talked today to a couple of farmers who say the dryland corn crop south of I-70 is  toast and the irrigated acres will be lucky to harvest half of a normal yield. Many circles have already been chopped for silage and more will likely come in the next few days.

Cotton is holding on. It will likely make a crop, although perhaps not as good of one as the potential was a couple of weeks ago. Late-planted soybeans have a shot if the heat breaks within the next two weeks. If it doesn't, they are toast. Pastures are already toast. Hay fields are toast. Ponds are dry or drying. Cattle herds are being liquidated.

The full picture of just how bad this situation is hasn't fully hit home yet. As usual, it will be February or March when all of  sudden folks in Topeka start screaming they just can't imagine where the "unexpected revenue shortfalls" are coming from. They ought to take advantage of the legislative recess and take a drive south and west. It might give them a clue.