Recent rain, hail end looming drought conditions

Hannah Brown
Small, soft, hail balls mixed with rain pelted Pratt's Main Street on Monday, May 11, bringing an end to a looming drought designation with more than 3 inches of precipitation measured in some areas. Kiowa County and Stafford County also received measurable amounts of rain.

Before Monday, May 11, Pratt County land was so dry that the area was considered in a drought danger zone, according to Jeff Johnson, National Weather Service meteorologist at Dodge City. From May 3 through May 10, the county only recorded 0.22 inches of rain. For the entire month of April, Pratt had just 1.7 inches of rain, well below the average of 2.85 inches, Johnson said.

That 0.22 inches occurred in a 24-hour period starting on May 7, when most of the precipitation fell. They received no official reports of hail in the Pratt area but there was hail reported in Clark County.

Prior to the rain, drought numbers across the western part of the state were going up with abnormally dry conditions in Pratt County. Further west towards the Colorado line, it was even dryer. Some southwest counties had moderate drought with a half dozen in the extreme southwest showing severe drought and one county on the Kansas-Colorado border was in extreme drought.

The rest of the state had no counties in drought situations.

But Monday, May 11, things started to look up for Pratt County and the surrounding areas when the clouds opened and precipitation came rolling in. In just four days, some places in the south-central Kansas nearly doubled the total rainfall for the whole month of April, with reports of anywhere from 2.75”-3.25”. Before this rainfall, many counties were experiences moderate-severe droughts, as mentioned earlier.

Pratt County was not the only area that received drought relief from the rain. Stafford and Kiowa Counties also had a plentiful rainfall from May 11-May 15. According to Mike Umscheid at the National Weather Service in Dodge City, Pratt County received the highest amount of rain between the three counties, with anywhere from 2.75”-3.25” reported throughout the county. Macksville was next on the list with 2.44”, the highest for Stafford County.

Mullinville rain gauges reportedly caught 1.75”, followed by Greensburg with just under an inch and a half, posting 1.47” of rain.

There were no multi-day totals reported from Haviland and St. John, but there was consistent rain on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in those counties as well.

All totaled, the recent rainy weather patterns over the area have put to rest concerns about a looming drought, for the time being.

Johnson said the weather service has been having trouble getting rain reports. He said they called lots and lots of people but got lots of disconnected phone lines.

"It has been getting harder in the last two or three years to get reports," Johnson said.

Many people have gone to unlisted cell phones and if they were talking about rain amounts or any other weather, they were doing it on social media. So the weather service is also checking social media sites to obtain rain amounts.

To become a rain reporter for the weather service, call (620) 225-6514.