The headline item in U.S. crop weather discussion at the end of March was a possibly big -- make that, huge -- rain event for the southern Plains. Forecasts hinted at such a development a couple weeks ago, shortly after the horrific wildfires. And, the forecasts verified. Practically the entire state of Kansas took in from one to four inches of rain during the March 24-31 week. The percentage of normal precipitation is off the charts -- running from double to eight TIMES the normal amount.
Regarding the cause of this heavy rain, Kansas state climatologist Mary Knapp offers some interesting comments in an article from Kansas State University's Extension bulletin this week on how very warm Gulf of Mexico temperatures played a big role in the past week's Kansas rainfall. Here is an excerpt:
"According to a recently published article in the technology journal Ars Technica, temperatures in the Gulf broke records for at least 31 days between November 1 and February 28. One contributing factor is the lack of cold air making its way south from Canada — instead, most of those winter blasts have been confined to the Dakotas and states along the northern U.S. border.
"Because of that, it's been much warmer than usual in the Gulf," said Mary Knapp, a climatologist with K-State Research and Extension. "And that allows those surface waters -- most of the waters in the Caribbean Basin or the Gulf of Mexico, really -- to stay warmer than they would typically be at this time of the year."
The good news this week: Many parts of Kansas are enjoying good, steady rain. The rain is critical for the wheat crop, as well as the scorched earth from the recent wildfires. Moisture will help hold topsoil in place and encourage plant growth, according to a new K-State Research and Extension publication released this week."
According to the High Plains Regional Climate Center, central and western Kansas had seven-day rainfall totals of 1-3.5 inches. Amounts of 1.5-2 inches were common in the wildfire areas of southwestern Kansas. And how important was the moisture this week? Take Dodge City for example. The Dodge City National Weather Service office precipitation total for the month of March is 2.58 inches. Two-point-four-nine-inches -- all but nine-hundredths -- occurred in just two days --T uesday March 28 and Wednesday March 29.
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