On track for normal rainfall in July.

Rainfall has been fairly steady in Pratt County in July and average temperatures have been cooler than what the area has been used to over the past three years.

"The last couple of weeks you guys have done fairly well," said Mary Knapp, state climatologist.

After a couple of years of drought and being in the "Extreme" drought category, Pratt could move up on the drought meter to the "Severe" level.

While "Severe" is still a long way from where Pratt needs to be, it is a move in the right direction.

"We're in extreme drought but we may move to severe drought," Knapp said.

Pratt has received 2.43 inches of rain in July and the forecast is for more rain by the end of the month. The average monthly rainfall for July is 3.14 inches and with more rain in the forecast it is possible Pratt could equal or exceed that amount.

To the north of Pratt, rainfall amounts have been much higher. In Stafford, Barton and Russell Counties, they received from five to six inches last week. This was not a downpour but the rain came slowly and had time to soak into the ground.

Meeting the average rainfall amounts is not improving the drought situation but just staying even. Because it didn't rain for so long, it will take may inches of rain above the average rainfall for several months to help recharge the ground and bring water levels back up to normal.

A good sign that the drought is getting better is increase in stream flow and Quivira and Cheyenne Bottoms filling up.

Temperature wise, the average temperature in July in Pratt has been 76 degrees through July 26. The average normal temperature is 79.5 degrees or three degrees below average for the month.

For the last two years, Pratt has been going through a drought. With higher than average temperatures and lower than average precipitation, the July temperatures and precipitation seem to be below normal when they are very close to the average.

The cooler temperatures mean that the moisture is more beneficial because it doesn't evaporate as fast and has more time to soak into the ground. Cooler weather also helps some crops retain the moisture.

However, if temperatures stay too cool it can actually work against some crops. Milo needs warmer temperatures. If it is too cool, it can cause stem discoloration and can shut down photosynthesis. Soybeans also have grain fill trouble if it is too cold.

Cotton also needs lots of heat units so cold weather slows down plant production.

The temperature has varied quite a bit compared to the steady hot temperatures in the last two years.

So far, the coolest temperature of the month was 40 degrees on July 1 while the highest temperature was on July 10 when it reached 104 degrees.