Rains not living up to expectations in northwest Kansas


By Mike Corn

By Mike Corn

Special to The Telegram

It certainly wasn't much of a drought-buster.

But some areas of northwest Kansas — notably Thomas County — received generous and welcome rains in the recent round of precipitation.

The biggest rain in the area was measured approximately 7 miles southwest of Levant in Thomas County. That report came in at 2.66 inches.

A second report at Gem, east of Colby, came in at 2.56 inches.

But while the six-day rainfall total 1.3 miles northeast of Colby came in at 2.49 inches, the Northwest Kansas Research and Extension Service just west of Colby measured just 1.52 inches in the rain gauge.

That's not much more than the official evaporation total of 1.23 inches for the same period.

At the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center at the south edge of Hays, the rainfall total was a paltry 0.39 of an inch.

Despite the rainfall reports, the Kansas wheat crop remains in poor condition, according to Kansas Agricultural Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While nearly 90 percent of the state's crop is rated as fair or poorer, only 1 percent of the crop is considered to be in excellent shape.

Sixty-four percent of the state's corn crop is in fair to very poor condition, although most of has been planted.

Pasture conditions remain dismal, nearly reflecting wheat conditions. Eighty-one percent of the state's pastures are rated fair to very poor, with just 18 percent in good shape and one percent in excellent shape.

Rains during the past week won't change those conditions much.

Aside from the Thomas County rainfall totals, the only other report of more than 2 inches came from an observer approximately 6 miles southwest of Russell, where the six-day total was 2.47 inches.

With the exception of the Hays and Colby research centers, all of the other rainfall amounts were reported via the online Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, often referred to as CoCoRaHS. It's a network of hundreds of Kansas observers, who daily submit weather reports online. It is one of the most comprehensive reporting networks in the state.

But it doesn't manufacture rain.

Of the 118 stations reporting weather in the past week, only 36 had more than inch of rainfall. Forty-nine had a half-inch or less.

The totals for the month are better, but many are still showing they received less than a half-inch of rainfall, according to CoCoRaHS.

Thomas County was the monthly leader as well, much of that based on recent rainfall.

But observers northeast of Hays and southwest of Ellis both reported total rainfall amounts of 0.13 of an inch of rainfall so far this month.

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