The drought picture across Kansas grew uglier today with the release of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor which shows extreme and exceptional drought spreading dramatically, sparing only 12 counties, which are in severe drought.
Temperatures in the triple digits and virtually no rain are resulting in conditions growing worse by the day. The worst conditions continue to be in western Kansas, where exceptional drought has now spread to all or parts of 17 counties.
Arborists are advising homeowners and farmers to water trees in lawns and shelterbelts where possible as the drought begins to damage and kill even deep-rooted, mature trees.
The only area of the state not slipping into extreme drought is the top two tiers of counties in the northeast and northcentral, where a strong storm system brought up to two inches of rain last week.
While enough to keep the area out of extreme or exceptional categories, the rain was not enough to provide any real relief to the region. In the extreme heat, about a third to a half an inch of water a day is lost to evaporation, so an inch of rain only helped the region hold on for an extra two or three days.
Drought also grew significantly worse in Nebraska, where only the southeastern portion of the state is spared the extreme to exceptional category. Like the area in Kansas, it remains in severe drought.
Drought also grew worse in Missouri, with extreme drought enveloping most of the state and extreme and exceptional drought grew worse in Illinois and Indiana.
In Kansas, 88.27% of the state is the worst two categories, while 17.45% is in the very worst category of the monitor. That was an increase of about 15% in the worst two categories and a little over 8% sliding in the worst of conditions.
By contrast, at this time last year, it was only south-central and southwest Kansas, 17.64% of the state that were in the worst two categories and only 11.57% showing in the exceptional drought category. Last year at the time, almost half the state was not experiencing drought. About 30% was shown as drought-free while another 17% was rated merely "abnormally dry."