Drought in Northeast Kansas
I think that "drought" was one of the words I heard most this summer. The dictionary defines drought as "a period of dryness especially when prolonged." And that is most definitely what we saw this summer. It has impacted our homes, lawns, landscapes, crops, and animals.
But how do you measure a drought? There are many different factors that go into figuring a drought level or impact. Has the change is weather pattern been just for a week? Or has there been a lack in normal rainfall for several months? If there has been a recent rainfall, was it soon enough to keep the plants growing well? Will it continue to rain to keep the drought from returning? Or was it just a small bit of water that is so desperately needed?
Another way to look at a drought is to look at the disciplines affected. A drought in late fall will have a different impact on industries in Kansas because many of our crops are in the process of maturing and being harvested. Rainfall is no longer really needed for those. But if a lack in rainfall happens in the middle of summer during the peak growing season, those plants that are actively growing will be hit harder than they would in late fall.
Regardless of the industry or the time of year though, a big decrease from normal rainfall will negatively impact somebody. The same came be said if we get too much rain, too. We are very much at the mercy of the weather. We may be able to irrigate some crops and lawns to help balance it out, but nothing beats a good rain when it’s needed.
Thankfully, Johnson County is continuing to climb its way out of a drought. We are still affected, but with every rain we get, we are one step closer to "normal." The change in temperature helps, too. Cooler weather means that plants and animals need less water and aren’t hit as hard by a lack in rainfall.
If you want to learn more, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a fact sheet publication that goes into more detail, and also has several links to help show the current drought and gives forecasts on the future of drought conditions across the country.