• Last modified 19 days ago (July 4, 2024)


Recent rains wash away drought status

Staff writer

Successive months of improved rainfall have removed nearly all indications of drought or unusual dryness in Marion County.

Only a narrow strip of the southwest corner of the county still counts as abnormally dry in the latest drought updates from the National Weather Service.

That’s a far cry from where the county was just eight weeks ago, when large portions of it were listed as facing severe drought. Especially improved in the past eight weeks is the northwest corner of the county.

That translates into good news for county farmers.

As most fields are beginning to tassel out, the latest crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists 63% of cornfields in the state as being in good or excellent condition. That compares with only 42% of winter wheat fields.

Pasture and range conditions were reported as 60% good or excellent, and soybean conditions were even better at 72% good or excellent.

Topsoil and subsoil moisture were reported to be adequate or in surplus at 62% to 66% of Kansas farms.

Warmer than usual temperatures are expected to continue into fall, according to the weather service, but the state should begin transitioning from El Nino to La Nina weather patterns, with drier conditions likely this summer and fall, the weather service said.

In Marion County, the first half of 2024 has been considerably wetter and warmer than the first half of 2023.

Last year through June 30, the county recorded just 14.46 inches of rainfall. This year, it has recorded 22.61, about the same as two years ago, when 23.33 inches were recorded.

The wettest and driest years in recent times were the two years before that, with 33.22 inches in the first half of 2021 and just 10.49 inches in the first half of 2020.

Marion County also recorded fewer heating degree-days and more cooling degree-days in the first half of this year than it did in the first half of 2023.

This year, the county used on average 2,634 degree-days worth of heat, while a year ago it used 2,914. Typical county residents used 454 degree-days of cooling in the first half of this year compared to 371 in the first half of last year.

This year marked a four-year low in use of heating-degree days in the first six months.

In the past five years, peak usage of heating degree-days during the first six months of the year was 2,576 in 2020. Cooling degree-day usage peaked at 560 in 2022.

Degree-days typically are used to estimate fuel consumption for heating and air conditioning.

Last modified July 4, 2024