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Examiner
  • Drought's effects not far off

  • So the big question: Is the drought really, officially, finally over?



    “Yes and no. For some areas, it’s technically over,” says meteorologist Chris Bowman at the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill.

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  • So the big question: Is the drought really, officially, finally over?
    “Yes and no. For some areas, it’s technically over,” says meteorologist Chris Bowman at the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill.
    Officially, Jackson County has been moved into the categories of “moderately drought” and even “abnormally dry.”
    “We have had a large amount of rainfall this year, and even into last, and that’s cut into the impacts of the drought,” Bowman says. Generally the farther east you go in Missouri, the more the drought has eased.
    But Bowman adds this caution: April, May and June are among the area’s wettest months on average, and a dry spell – which we normally expect in the summer – could bring all those drought impacts right back.
    “If we get a period where we’re hot and dry, we’re going to be hurting,” he says.
    After all, 2012 was the third driest – and third hottest – year on record in Kansas City, and those records go back to 1889. Looking at two-year periods, 2012-13 at the moment is tracking right along with the five driest on record.
    In 2013, rainfall at Kansas City International Airport, where official records are kept, has been slightly above average. That’s also true in Weather Service measurements in Lee’s Summit. But it only does so much good when the subsoil remains so dry.
    “It just kind of shows we’ve been plodding along. ... not really making up for deficits of last year,” Bowman says.
    Normally in two years, the area would expect 77.72 inches of rain (and melted snow). Since Jan. 1, 2012, we’ve gotten 29.44 inches and still have eight months to pass the five driest two-year periods on record: 46.35 inches in 1936-37, 48.45 inches in 1953-54, 52.72 inches in 2002-03, 54.18 inches in 1932-33 and 54.26 inches in 1933-34. Put another way, if the area has normal rainfall for the rest of the year, it comes in right around 60 inches for 2012-13, which keeps it well out of the all-time top five.
     
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