Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dealing with Drought

It is the start of our third year in drought and there is a great deal of question surrounding how much longer it will go. Drought is nothing new for our area, and we've certainly had some very dry periods looking back through the record books.

State climatologist Mary Knapp shared with me one of the most significant droughts that Kansas dealt with was back in the 50s, and it finally ended in 1956. Some areas had a cumulative deficit of 60 inches. Can you image what that would've been like? Here are the rainfall deficits for 2 years, and although the numbers are quite amazing, we still have a long way to go before we would threaten those levels.

One thing that I hadn't thought about that Knapp pointed out a couple of different times when we talked, was the demand on our water supply. We just expect the water to be there, and when we go through dry periods (like the one we are in now) and the water levels drop, we need to be using good judgement on our water usage.

Today, look how many residential lawns have irrigation systems and the demand placed on the water supply from industrial use. So much has changed since we dealt with widespread drought back in the 1950s and 1930s. Conservation of water will be extremely important moving forward into the spring and summer months. I can't imagine another 6 months going by without some kind of water restriction placed on much of the state. Although unlikely to last another 6-8 years, imagine another 2-4 years with the drought and how much of Kansas will change. Water levels are already very low, and if we don't get smart with our consumption, we will likely pay a hefty price.

Looking ahead to spring, our pattern looks like it is on a 40-50 day active cycle. So when the active part of the pattern is repeating, it's likely that we will have several rounds of severe storms (to what magnitude, I'm not sure). But that could be a price we will have to pay to get rain. I think April will be a very active month around Kansas. The last few storm seasons have been especially active in April, with some of the bigger storms occurring east of Kansas in May and June. The science of meteorology doesn't allow us to accurately forecast a number of tornadoes, so only time will dictate that answer. But let's hope for some big rains between now and early summer. We are heading into our wettest time of the year. The three months of April, May, and June are usually more generous than the other months of the year with rain... now it just needs to happen.

Thanks to Brenda Casanova for sending me pictures of the Marion Reservoir. It's estimated the water levels are down 5 to 6 feet, which may not sound like much, but you can see from the pictures, we need rain!!


John said...

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Anonymous said...

Have you heard of ForeverLawn, a synthetic grass company? They will soon have a dealer right here in Wichita! And there's more to them than just residential. Now there's a way to save on water. Going green and staying green!

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