NWS Wichita Drought Page
**(Note: This page will only be updated during times of drought, especially the text portions. However, many of the graphics will update regularly)**
Click HERE for an excellent drought report updated weekly by the Kansas Water Office.
| Current Drought Conditions
Kansas Historic Long-Term Precipitation Deficits
How do Kansas precipitation deficits the past couple years compare to historical precipitation deficits since the late 1800s? The below table illustrates Kansas' 10-driest August-July periods since 1895. Annual rainfall totals across the nine Kansas climate divisions are averaged to come up with the totals in the below table. Periods ending in 2013 are red, while periods ending in 2012 are blue. The data was obtained from the National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC) time series plots.
Notice the two and three year precipitation deficts ending in 2012 and 2013 rival some of the historically very dry years of the 1930s and '50s. However, notice the relatively wet 5-year periods from 2007-12 and 2008-13. Contrast this to the extremely dry years of the '30s and '50s.
Historical KS Precipitation Deficits Since 1895...Ending July 2013
(Periods Ending in 2013 Red/2012 Blue)
1-Year (inches) Aug-Jul
2-Year (inches) Aug-Jul
3-Year (inches) Aug-Jul
5-Year (inches) Aug-Jul
||-21.15 1953-56||-31.96 1951-56
||-20.12 1952-55||-28.54 1952-57
||-18.29 1951-54||-28.05 1932-37
|-8.60 1952-53||-13.97 1954-56
||-16.92 1932-35||-26.68 1935-40
||-15.55 1937-40||-22.64 1931-36
||-15.26 1933-36||-20.07 1929-34
||-14.61 1931-34||-19.94 1933-38
||-13.38 1915-18||-19.91 1934-39
||-12.99 1954-57||-18.27 1909-14
||-12.70 1934-37||-17.59 1930-35
|-2.32 2012-13 (39th Driest)
||-6.17 2011-13 (25th Driest)||-11.57 2010-13 (15th Driest)||+0.33 2008-13 (55th Driest)
|-3.88 2011-12 (28th Driest)
||-9.35 2010-12 (11th Driest)||-3.67 2009-12 (38th Driest)||+5.39 2007-12 (70th Driest)
Past Precipitation Totals and Departures From Normal
(30-Day, 60-Day, 90-Day, 6-Month, 1-Year, 2-Year)
The below images (courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center) represent precipitation totals, departures from normal and percent of normal the past 30, 60, 90 days, the past 6-months, and the past one and two years across Kansas. The unit of measure is inches. Precipitation includes rainfall, melted-down snow, sleet, freezing, hail, etc. For the departures and percent of normal maps, oranges and reds indicate drier conditions, while blues and purples indicate wetter conditions. Notice the very wet conditions over the past 3 to 6 months mainly over the eastern half of Kansas. Click each image to enlarge.
|Precipitation Past 30-Days
||30-Day Departure From Normal
||30-Day % of Normal|
|Precipitation Past 60 Days||60-Day Departure From Normal||60-Day % of Normal
|Precipitation Past 90 Days
||90-Day Departure From Normal
||90-Day % of Normal|
|Precipitation Past 6-Months||6-Month Departure From Normal
||6-Month % of Normal|
|Precipitation Past 1-Year
||1-Year Departure From Normal
||1-Year % of Normal|
|Precipitation Past 2-Years||2-Year Departure From Normal||2-Year % of Normal|
|Precipitation Past 3-Years||3-Year Departure From Normal||3-Year % of Normal|
Comparing Past Droughts
The below graph depicts historical drought severity across Kansas since 1895, using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Widely considered to be an excellent indicator of long-term drought severity, the PDSI uses a comprehensive blend of precipitation, temperature and soil moisture to determine long-term drought severity. Negative values indicate drought conditions, while positive values indicate wet and drought-free conditions. Long-term drought before February was certainly rivaling the infamously dry years of the 1930s and 1950s, but beneficial precipitation since February has greatly eased (and as of late, erased) long-term drought conditions. Image courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
|Kansas Historical Droughts (click to enlarge)|
|Kansas Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) values since 1895. Values are averaged across the entire state of Kansas. Negative (yellow) values denote drought, positive (green) values denote wet or drought-free conditions. Notice the severe and long-term droughts of the 1930s and '50s.
Below is another way of graphically depicting severe droughts across the nation since 1900. The images are courtesy of the Western Regional Climate Center. Widely considered to be an excellent indicator of long-term drought severity, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) is highlighted in each image below. The PDSI uses a comprehensive blend of precipitation, temperature and soil moisture to determine long-term drought severity. Red indicates very dry conditions, blue indicates very wet conditions. Once again, notice the severe and expansive droughts of the 1930s and '50s. Click each image to enlarge.
|Crop Moisture Index (Most Useful Spring-Fall)
||Soil Moisture and Anomalies
(Most Useful Spring-Fall)
|KS Vegetation Condition (Current) - Most Useful Spring-Summer-Fall
||KS Vegetation Condition (1-Year Ago) - Most Useful Spring-Summer-Fall
|Kansas vegetation health July 16-29, 2013. Green colors indicate healthy vegetation, while orange and red colors indicate unhealthy vegetation. Notice how much healthier vegetation was this year compared to last year at this time (right image). For more information, please visit the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) website.||Kansas vegetation health July 17-30, 2012, roughly one year ago. Green colors indicate healthy vegetation, while orange and red colors indicate unhealthy vegetation. Noticed how much more unhealthy 2012 vegetation was from current vegetation (left image). For more information, please visit the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) website.|
|Federal Reservoir Levels
|Federal Reservoir levels across Kansas as of August 14th. Notice the near normal reservoir levels over generally the eastern half of Kansas, with levels dropping off across western Kansas.|Historical Kansas Hydrological Droughts
Arkansas River Streamflow near Wichita Since 2008
Kansas Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) values since 1895. PHDI reflects long-term drought severity associated with streamflow, reservoir and groundwater levels. Negative values denote drought, positive values denote wet or drought-free conditions. Notice the long-term hydrological droughts of the 1930s and '50s. Image courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
Arkansas River (near Wichita) streamflow since 2008. The solid black line is actual streamflow; blue denotes above normal flow, green near normal, and yellow/maroon below normal. The bottom extent of the maroon curve is record low flow. Notice the record to near record low flow during portions of 2011, 2012, and early 2013, with stream flow dramatically improving through 2013.
The below long-range outlook images are courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC).
Other Useful Resources
Please contact us with any questions or comments regarding this drought page, or about drought or climate in general.
Eric Schminke or Andy Kleinsasser
Drought Focal Points
National Weather Service
2142 S. Tyler Rd
Wichita, KS 67209