Greensburg received 1.21 inches of rain over the weekend, the first significant rain in months in Kiowa County.
After months of almost no rain, a storm finally made its way across Kiowa County and dumped 1.21 inches of rain on Greensburg over the weekend. That is the entire amount of rain for all of March, so far. To put that in perspective, the entire precipitation in Greensburg from Jan. 1 to March 21 is just 1.46 inches, said Mary Knapp, state climatologist from Manhattan.
That means that before this weekend, Greensburg had recorded just 0.25 inches of precipitation in 68 days.
The last rain event that was greater then 0.10 inches goes all the way back to October 2017. During a four day stretch, Greensburg received 0.24 inches-Oct. 4; 0.01 inches-Oct. 5; 0.06 inches-Oct. 6; 0.67 inches-Oct. 67 inches.
After that, rainfall was almost non-existent until the rain last weekend. Only 0.02 inches fell in November 2017 with just 0.01 inches in January. February amounts were not much better with 0.01 inches Feb. 10; 0.10 inches on Feb 20; 0.05 inches on Feb. 22; and 0.05 inches on Feb. 0.05.
The amount of moisture received from Oct. 1, 2017 to March 21 is just 2.49 inches. The normal amount for that time span is 6.47 inches so Greensburg has received less than half of what it should have for that time period, Knapp said.
The area remains in extreme drought in spite of the rain. The biggest impact of the rain is it will slow the deterioration of moisture but it isn't going to erase the drought. That will take a lot more rain. If the weather develops a pattern of rain systems like last weekend, that will lead to drought improvement. Until then, the area will remain well below the year to date normal precipitation.
"It's just bad," Knapp said.
One of the benefits of this rain was that it came slowly over a 24 hour period that allowed for better penetration. It's also been extremely beneficial for the wheat crop. With a warm weather coming this weekend, the rain will help feed the roots and help keep the wheat alive. It's not too late for wheat to produce. If it can get more rain in a timely manner in adequate amounts, it can still produce a decent crop of wheat.
Like the drought, the fire danger has not gone away either. It only takes about a hour after a rain for grass to dry out to a point that it can burn again. If it's warm, windy and there is low humidity, the fire danger is still there. With those conditions in place later this week, there is a big fire risk again with a significant fire risk on Friday and an elevated risk on Saturday and Sunday in central Kansas. The predicted high for Friday is 84.
So, while the rain reduced the fire danger for a while, the grass is dried out again and there is still a fire hazard. If there is a fire, fire trucks will have to deal with wet ground and that can be a problem for them.
While the precipitation in Greensburg is low for October to March, there have been other years when precipitation was even less than 2.49 inches. The lowest precipitation for the six month period from October to March: 1.72 inches in 1955-1956; 1.57 inches in 1916-1917; 1.56 inches in 1988-1989; 1.28 inches in 1966-1967; 1.21 inches in 1932-1933.