I thought I had escaped constantly rainy weather when I left Louisiana. I was wrong.
It poured in Kansas City early this morning. A heavy thunderstorm came through at 1:30 a.m., so strong it knocked out the power to the Courtyard for a minute. They are expecting 2 to 3 inches through tomorrow at noon. This is on top of the heavy rain last week, the rain which was going on when I left last Thursday.
Contrast that to western Kansas, where we’ve been in a drought since I moved there in September 2005. It has gotten so bad in Russell that the city council has enforced strict restrictions on usage on numerous occasions, banning the use of water on lawns and to wash cars. We have a well at 1224 North Brooks, so our lawn hasn’t suffered, and it’s made a lot of those around town angry. Then again, my grandfather isn’t going to leave any stone unturned, and he planned this when he built the house in the late 1970s.
It’s not unexpected areas of Kansas from the US 281 corridor, where Russell lies, and west are in a drought. It’s semi-arid to start with. I’ve seen a lot of brown on 281 from Russell to Smith Center, US 183 from Hays to Philipsburg, US 283 from WaKeeney to Norton and from WaKeeney to Dodge City, K-23 from Grainfield to Selden and then US 83 to Oberlin, K-25 from Colby to Atwood, and K-27 from Goodland to St. Francis.
Go further east on I-70, and you begin to see green. It seems 281 is the line of demarcation, because I don’t see nearly as much brown in places like Beloit, Mankato, Belleville, Washington and Salina. From Abilene east on I-70, it’s fine. Same with US 36 east of Washington.
The drought is even worse in southwest Kansas, where rain is scarce even in a good year. I’ll never forget going to Ulysses in 2010 for a Russell High softball game, and seeing just how brown all the fields were on Kansas Highway 25 from Lakin to Ulysses. Two years later, I took K-25 from Leoti to Lakin, and same thing, lots and lots of brown. It’s like that most of the time in Wichita, Kearny, Grant, Haskell, Seward, Stevens and Morton counties.
Here’s the kicker about Kansas City: there’s sharp contrast to rainfall in the metropolitan area itself. The areas north of the Missouri River, especially the areas in Platte County towards Kansas City International Airport, have been soaked in the recent rains. On the other hand, many areas in Johnson County, especially Olathe and areas to the south like De Soto and Spring Hill, are significantly short on rain for the year. Last week, most of the rain fell in Clay and Platte counties in Missouri, while far, far less fell south of I-70. There was a one inch burst in five minutes at the Kansas Speedway last Thursday, significantly cutting into practice time for the NASCAR races last weekend.
Because of all the rain expected, I’m not changing hotels. I thought about staying in Overland Park, but I don’t want to go back and forth–if I am going to Buffalo Wild Wings–and fight the slick roads. It’s enough of a challenge going the three miles between Tiffany Springs and Zona Rosa.
I’m driving to Brookville, about 20 miles south and west of Salina, for Smith Center’s football game tomorrow night. I don’t mind driving in the rain; I’ll just leave earlier. I don’t want it raining at kickoff.