Area residents in and around Dodge City are probably getting tired of hearing about below average moisture and above average temperatures.
Dodge City and southwestern Kansas has been in some level of drought condition since December 2010. Since then drought conditions have fluctuated but have never gone away.
The drought level hit exceptional drought, the worst level, in August 2012 and most of the area remains at that level, said State Extension Climatologist Mary Knapp.
It's not much consolation but Dodge City is sitting on drought boarder between exceptional and extreme. Conditions get better towards the east and worse towards the west, Knapp said.
As of Thursday, May 23 the southwest portion of Kansas needs 6.04 inches of moisture to bring moisture levels to a neutral point. The longer it doesn't rain the worse that number will become.
So far the moisture numbers for 2013 are substantially below normal average precipitation amounts. From May 1 to May 22, Dodge City received 0.14 inches of moisture and that is 79 percent below the normal average for the same period.
From April 1 to May 22, 0.95 inches of precipitation were recorded for 80 percent below normal precipitation. For the period from January to May, 2.23 inches were received and that is 63 percent below normal.
During the wheat-growing season from September 2012 through May 22 5.92 inches was recorded and that was 42 percent below normal.
Recharging the soil after an extended drought takes time and recovering from an extended drought takes even longer. Even if the area got those 6.04 inches of precipitation necessary to bring the moisture back to a neutral level, it would take several months if not years to recover completely from the impact of the drought, Knapp said.
Another method of measuring the impact of the drought is the amount of water in the soil that's available to plants called "field capacity." When the soil is fully charged it would be at 100 percent. Right now the soil in southwest Kansas is only charged to 5.9 percent.
"Basically it's bone dry," Knapp said.
Conditions improve rapidly to the east. In south central Kansas the field capacity is at 67.3 percent and southeast Kansas is at 93 percent.
Southeastern Kansas tends to get over half its moisture from May to August. The longer it goes without that precipitation, the worse the situation gets.
The only reason the area is not suffering now under more stress is average temperatures are running lower then normal for this time of year. With lower temperatures, any moisture has more time to soak into the ground and not evaporate into the air. , Knapp said.
The temperature in Dodge City has varied greatly during May with a high of 102 on May 18 with the lowest temperature on May 3 at 25 degrees. The last freeze for Dodge City was May 5 and that created some problems for the wheat crop.
Page 2 of 2 - Unfortunately, the prognosis for future precipitation is not favorable for Dodge City and southwest Kansas. A conservative estimate is from 0.50 inches to 1 inch during the next week to the end of May. To meet the normal average, it would have to rain 0.25 inches every day for the next week. And that would not go far to reduce their deficit.
The weather outlook for Dodge City reveals a chance for thunderstorms every day for a week in the area with a possibility for 0.25 inches to 0.50 inches of rain.
In the long range the area has a better than normal chance for temperatures above normal and moisture below normal for June with a similar long range prediction for July and August, said Matt Gerard, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Dodge City.