Update on drought conditions for Kansas - March 15

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Current status

The roller coaster ride of temperatures continues for Kansas. State-wide temperatures averaged 38.7 degrees F (Figure 1) or 2.7 degrees cooler-than-normal for the week ending on March 13th (Figure 2). The Northeastern Division had the largest departure from normal at 4.6 degrees F cooler-than-normal with an average temperature of 35.8 degrees F.  The West Central Division had the least departure with an average of 38.9 degrees F, or 0.9 degrees cooler-than-normal.  There was a wide swing between the warmest and coldest readings.  The Southwest, South Central, and Central divisions all had a diurnal variation – the difference between the warmest and coldest temperatures -- of 65 degrees. The Northeast Division had the least range in temperatures with an average diurnal variation of 52 degrees. The warmest reading in the state was 78 degrees F reported at Hutchinson 4NE, Reno County, on the March 10.  The coldest reading in the state was 0 degrees F reported at multiple locations across the state on the 7th and again on the 9th.


Figure 1. Weekly mean temperatures for Kansas during the week of March 7-13 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.

Figure 2. Departure from weekly mean temperatures for Kansas during the week of March 7-13 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.


Moisture was almost non-existent.  The state-wide average was zero inches, or zero percent of normal.  That is 0.45 inches below-normal for the period.  No division averaged measurable precipitation.  Of the combined monitoring stations: including NWS COOP, CoCoRaHS and Kansas Mesonet stations – a total of 510 stations – only 14 reported measurable precipitation.  The greatest weekly total for the National Weather Service Cooperative Stations was 0.02 inches at Cottonwood Falls in Chase County.  The highest weekly total at a Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network station was 0.04 inches at Newton 6.5 WNW.  For the Kansas Mesonet, the greatest total was 0.06 inches at Hiawatha, in Brown County. There were only trace amounts of snowfall during the week.

Figure 3. Weekly measured precipitation for Kansas during the week of March 7-13 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.

Figure 4. Departure from normal weekly measured precipitation for Kansas during the week of March 7-13 via Cooperative Observer (COOP) and Kansas Mesonet.


Despite the cooler-than-normal temperatures, the continued dry weather resulted in drought expansion across the state (Figure 5).  A small corner of northwest Kansas remains drought free (Figure 6).  The portion of the state in extreme drought expanded slightly from last week to just over 19 percent, and areas in moderate and severe drought worsened. Exceptional drought remains in the southern parts of the state, expanding north from Oklahoma.



Figure 5. One week change in drought classifications from the Drought Monitor.

Figure 6. Current drought condition classifications from the Drought Monitor.


The quantitative precipitation forecast for the 7-day period, ending on March 22nd, is not very encouraging. The area with highest expected amounts of precipitation are along the Kansas/Missouri border in the northeast corner. (Figure 7).  That region may see up to an inch and a quarter of rainfall.  However, amounts drop sharply as you head west and south.  From central Kansas to the southwest, the accumulation is expected to be less than a hundredth 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 areas except in the southwest, where there is an increased chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures, with the strongest signal in the southern portions of the state.


Figure 7. Quantitative precipitation forecast for the week ending on March 22, 2018.


Figure 8. 8-10 day precipitation outlook for period ending March 29, 2018 (CPC).


The April outlook and the 3-month outlook are a little less negative.  The April precipitation outlook, as well as the temperature outlook, is neutral with equal chances of above- or below- normal conditions. The April – June outlooks aren’t quite as promising (Figure 9).  The precipitation outlook for that period is neutral, but the temperature outlook favors warmer-than-normal conditions.  Warmer-than normal temperatures would translate to a higher evaporative demand.


Figure 9. Three month precipitation outlook for period ending June 2018 (CPC).


Drought declaration for Kansas

This week, the Kansas Governor issued a drought declaration for the state.  All counties are at least in watch status, with many of the southwest, central and south central counties in emergency status.

Figure 10. Kansas Drought Declarations (kwo.ks.gov).


Having a Governor declare drought or other state disaster declaration allows for:

•             The sharing of some resources

•             The waiver of some bid processes (to get materials or services rapidly)

•             Certain waivers of service hours (ex: electrical linemen if power lines are down)

•             The activation of the National Guard

•             Other than Reclamation monies, no other federal funding is triggered with Governor’s Declaration

The Kansas Water Office serves as the coordinating agency for drought response. More information on these and other resources and activities can be found on their web page*: www.kwo.ks.gov

*Note: this link is different than the web address you might remember, so please update your bookmarks.

Kansas Research and Extension also has a wide range of materials available related to drought conditions.

Additional information can be found in the latest Agronomy eUpdate at https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/agr_social/eu.throck or on the Kansas Climate website under weekly maps or drought reports at 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