Drought Drags On

For those of us who were hoping our current hard case drought would dry up and blow away, the reality is anything but. Instead, the new 3-month forecast promises more of the same and a lot of it.

Last fall when talking with Jeff Hutton from the National Weather Service in Dodge City, he speculated that 2022 was starting to look a lot like l956. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Kansas weather over the past 150 years knows that is the one single year you do not want to be like. It was the driest year in Kansas history.

Like 1956, our current drought didn’t just start last fall. According to our weather records, this drought started two years earlier. In 2020, we recorded 15.68 inches of total precip while in ’21, we received 16.85 inches against an average of roughly 19 inches a year of rain and snowmelt.

But this year we’re going over the edge. Halfway through the year we’ve received just over 6 inches of total precip when we should have gotten just over 10.  And the crops show it. After a five or 10-mile trip around the farm, you pass field after field of dryland corn and milo that has the slimmest of odds of surviving. Some of those you hope will produce enough ground cover to keep the ground from blowing next spring.

Still, one thing I’ve learned in this business is that you’ve got to be careful who you whine around””because somebody else always has it worse. Take Garden City, for example. Their official recording station, I’m told, is out at the airport. And so far this year, that spot on the earth has gotten only 1.94 inches of total precip.

So what about that new forecast? If you like hot and dry, you’ll love it. After a hotter and drier than normal July, NOAA says the next three months of August, September and October will be exactly the same””hot and dry.

Jeff Hutton thinks much of our current weather pattern is tied to what is now three years of cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Apparently that is a long time and is not a good thing because he adds that some long range hemispheric models are now pushing for the same equatorial Pacific conditions to continue unabated.

“So, IF much of the current weather pattern is tied to that area, then we could be in store for a long period of dryness going into October.

“But a new weather pattern establishes every fall and even with the same Pacific conditions, our area could still benefit with just minor shifts in weather systems,” Jeff says. “Still, I’m just not optimistic at this point””which means there is a risk that overall dryness will continue into 2023.”

However, there is some good news in all of this… I guess.  Jeff says if 2023 is dry, it probably won’t be as dry as this year. Gee thanks!

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