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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Warm November temperatures ease dry conditions

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  • It didn't matter where the rain gauge was located in Pratt County in November, it didn't have much to measure.
    That lack of moisture could have been bad news for the wheat crop if the temperatures had been above average like they have been for the last two years of drought.
    But November temperatures were very close to average and that helped prevent the wheat plants from drawing moisture out of the ground, said State Climatologist Mary Knapp.
    "You can get by with much closer to average temperatures," Knapp said.
    Across the county the rain amounts were just a little above a half-inch with 0.59 inches as an average for the entire county for November.
    An average precipitation amount for Pratt County for November is 1.18 inches so the entire county is about a half inch short for the month, Knapp said.
    Falling short of rainfall in November is a reflection of the rainfall totals for the entire year. As of the end of November, the area is 6.72 inches behind for the year. The normal average rainfall amount for this time of year is 20.26 inches.
    While this is bad it is still better than either 2012 or 2011 when drought covered the region with abnormally high temperatures and abnormally low amounts of precipitation.
    While November didn't produce much moisture, when combined with October, the area got 3.06 inches of precipitation. The extra precipitation in October was very beneficial for the wheat crop.
    That compares with 0.20 inches in October and November in 2012 and 4.99 inches in October and November 2011.
    It takes a long time for the ground to recover from a drought period. For a time, the entire state, including Pratt, was rated in extreme drought, the highest drought rating.
    The drought rating for Pratt is on the boarder between "abnormally dry and moderate drought," Knapp said.
    While this is an improvement in the drought situation, it doesn't mean the effects of the drought are over but it does mean things are getting better but slowly.
    "You're not losing ground as quickly," Knapp said.
    Higher than normal rainfall amounts in August provided ample moisture for farmers to get the wheat crop planted and get it up. Some places in the county actually had enough moisture to allow producers to put cattle on wheat pasture.
    However, after two years of drought, it is going to take a long time to recharge the subsurface moisture.
    "It's going to be a slow change," Knapp said.
    The immediate outlook for precipitation doesn't have much in store for Kansas but it has a lot of cold weather.
    The seven-day forecast has high temperatures below freezing and only a 30 to 40 percent chance of precipitation. Snow amounts could be 1.6 inches and that translates to 0.13 of an inch of moisture.
    Page 2 of 2 - The colder temperatures are beneficial a couple of ways. It keeps wheat dormant so it uses less moisture and it reduces the number of insects, a problem the last two years because of the abnormally high temperatures.
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