Drought is easing in Missouri, but it’s still been a relatively dry year and it looks as if 2012-13 will end up as one of the driest two-year periods on record in Kansas City.
“Cooler and wetter than normal conditions in the last month (have) helped to ease the severe drought that was affecting northern Missouri,” the National Weather Service said in a drought update posted this week.
While a sliver of northeastern Jackson County and all or parts of more than 30 counties remain abnormally dry, other parts of the state – the St. Louis area plus northern Missouri from Maryville to Carrollton to Kirksville – remain under what the Weather Service calls moderate drought.
Last year was the third-driest year on record in Kansas City. Just 22.28 inches of rain – 57 percent of the normal 38.86 inches – was recorded at Kansas City International Airport. There were times in the summer 2012 when Jackson County and much of western Missouri were in what the Weather Service calls exceptional drought, the highest rating on a five-step drought scale.
At the beginning of 2013, every part of the state was rated somewhere on that scale, generally in the severe or moderate categories. Then things eased up, and by early May only 10 northwest Missouri counties had any drought rating at all.
It didn’t last. Dry conditions came back, particularly in northern Missouri but also touching on the metro area. Since April 1, rainfall at KCI has been just 68 percent of normal.
Long-range forecasts suggest December – one of the driest months anyway – will be drier than normal. That could put 2012-13 in the record books. Since Jan. 1, 2012, the area has only gotten 55.96 inches of precipitation. That’s only a little more than the 54.26 inches recorded in 1933-34, the fifth driest two-year period.
The lowest total, 46.35 inches, came in 1936-37, and 2002-03 is the third lowest, at 52.72 inches. Normally, the area would get 77.72 inches in two years.
The first part of 2013 was wetter than normal, but dry conditions since have taken a toll. Through Nov. 21, the Weather Service had recorded 33.68 inches of precipitation. That’s 3.05 shy of normal or, put another way, 92 percent of normal.