Where’s the rain? Kansas City area feeling parched as drought conditions set in

·2 min read
U.S. Drought Monitor

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you if you think the Kansas City area is looking parched.

Much of the Kansas City metro area is abnormally dry with Jackson and Cass counties facing moderate to severe drought conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map.

And it’s getting worse.

“Obviously, anytime we have drought, the reason is deficits in precipitation,” said Brett Williams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill. “And for us, a big issue is that we’re in May, when it’s the wettest time of the year, and we really haven’t gotten a whole lot of rain.”

It’s been very dry across the region in the last couple of months, he said.

Typically, April, May and June are the wettest months of the year for Kansas City. But that has not been the case so far this year.

In April, only 2.77 inches of rain fell at KCI, well below the 4.05 inches of ran that is considered normal for the month.

So far in May, 3 inches of rain have fallen at KCI, with 1.29 of that falling when storms swept through on Wednesday evening. Typically by this date in May, Kansas City records 4.47 inches of rainfall.

The rain that has fallen has been localized rather than being widespread. So some areas are drier than others.

When looking at the last 30 and 60 days, most of the Kansas City region has seen only 25% to 50% of its normal rainfall, Williams said.

And with no meaningful precipitation in the forecast, Williams said he doesn’t expect the drought conditions to improve anytime soon. If anything, they will likely worsen, at least for the short term.

The biggest impact of the drought will be felt by those with agricultural interests. But droughts can lead to conditions that are favorable for wildfires to ignite and spread rapidly. Dry conditions coupled with strong winds helped a mulch fire spread out of control, forcing the evacuations in part of Kansas City and the closure of Interstate 470.

If drought conditions persist or worsen, the Kansas City area could see an elevated risk of fires this summer.