Kansas drought update - March 20, 2018

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Current status

Moisture finally arrived for many areas in Kansas.  State-wide, the precipitation average 0.74 inches or 148 percent of normal.  This is the most widespread precipitation that we have seen so far this year. The South Central Division fared the best with an average of 1.24 inches, or 197 percent of normal.  As the only division with below-normal precipitation for the week, the Southwest Division had the lowest average at 0.28 inches or 85 percent of normal.  The deficit for that division was - 0.05 inches.  Unfortunately, the extreme far southwest corner missed out on the rain, with amounts of zero to less than a 10th of an inch.  The greatest weekly total for the National Weather Service Cooperative Stations was 2.68 inches at Osawatomie in Miami County.  The highest weekly total at a Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network station was 2.81 inches at Hutchinson 2.2 SSW, Reno County.  For the Kansas Mesonet, the greatest total was 1.97 inches at Hutchinson 10SW, in Reno County.  More precipitation came as snow this week, with the greatest total at Ransom 2NE, Ness County, where they recorded 3 inches.

Figure 1. Weekly total precipitation for Kansas during the week of March 14 - 20 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.

Figure 2. Departures of weekly precipitation from normal for Kansas during the week of March 14 - 20 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.


Temperatures were on the milder side, although lows did drop into the teens in all divisions.  The statewide average temperature was 45.5 degrees F, or 1.8 degrees warmer-than-normal.  The Northeast Division came closest to normal with an average of 43.4 degrees F, or 0.5 degrees warmer-than-normal.  The Southwest Division had the largest departure, with an average of 47.6 degrees F or 3.1 degrees warmer-than-normal.  Both the warmest and the coldest readings were recorded in the West Central Division: highest maximum temperature was 85 degrees F at Healy, Lane County, on the 17th; lowest minimum temperature was 12 degrees F at Tribune 1W, Greeley County, on the 20th.

Figure 3. Weekly mean temperatures for Kansas during the week of March 14 – 20 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.

Figure 4. Departures of weekly mean temperatures for Kansas during the week of March 7 - 13 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.


The recent rainfall didn’t reduce the drought in Kansas (Figure 5).  The difference in soil moisture anomalies from last week to this week (Figure 6) shows how little the moisture received changed the overall short fall.  It was enough to prevent expansion, but not enough to see improvements.

Figure 5. Current drought from the Drought Monitor.


Figure 6. Difference in soil moisture anomaly (Climate Prediction Center).


Future precipitation and temperature outlook

The quantitative precipitation forecast for the 7-day period, ending on March 31st, is more encouraging. The areas with highest expected amounts are along the Kansas/Missouri border, particularly in the southeast corner of the state (Figure 7).  That region may see up to two inches.  However, amounts drop sharply as you head west.  From central Kansas to the southwest, the accumulation is expected to be less than a quarter of an inch.

The 8 to 14-day precipitation outlook (Figure 8) indicates a slightly increased chance of above-normal precipitation in the eastern third of the state, but areas that are in extreme drought are likely to see below-average precipitation.

The temperature outlook is neutral for all divisions except the Southwest, where there is an increased chance of warmer-than-normal statewide, with the strongest signal in the southern portions of the state.


Figure 7. Quantitative Precipitation Forecast for week ending March 31, 2018



Figure 8. 8-10 day Precipitation Outlook for period ending April 4, 2018 (Climate Prediction Center)




Additional information can be found in the latest Agronomy eUpdate at https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/agr_social/eu.throck

Also on the Kansas Climate website under weekly maps or drought reports http://climate.k-state.edu/maps/weekly and http://climate.k-state.edu/reports/weekly/2018/.




Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Chip Redmond, Kansas Mesonet