Wet December didn't cure drought
A wetter than normal December, with 1.12 inches more precipitation than usual, helped. But for the year, Marion County remained much drier than usual, with a total of 10.51 inches less precipitation than normal, according to National Weather Service data released Monday.
The county recorded 2.30 inches in December but only 23.43 for the year. Central portions of the county were among the state’s driest areas for the year.
The county continues to be classified as being in drought conditions, but the entire county has improved to being regarded as in moderate drought only. Conditions near Great Bend and the north-central portion of the state are worse, with severe and extreme drought reported there.
The southwestern half of Marion County has seen its drought status improve modestly in the past one to two months.
However, soil moisture remains about 20 millimeters below normal. Topsoil moisture is reported as short or very short in 57% of Kansas, and subsoil moisture is reported as short or extremely short in 69% of the state.
Precipitation totaling 0.25 to 0.50 of an inch is expected in the next seven days, and above normal precipitation is expected for January as a whole. Temperatures, however, are expected to be slightly below normal. Through March, precipitation is expected to be slightly above normal and temperatures near normal.
Meteorologists attribute most of these forecasts to the presence of a strong El Nino effect, a cyclical warming of ocean water in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.
According to a Record averaging of data from 10 private weather stations in the county, 2023 was the county’s driest year since 2020, but temperatures were more moderate than usual. Last year featured 4,601 heating and 1,551 cooling degree-days compared with 5,061 heating and 1,801 cooling degree-days in 2022, according to the Record’s analysis.
Last modified Jan. 4, 2024