TOPEKA, Kan. Most of Kansas has not seen measurable rainfall this year and the situation is becoming increasingly serious.
In Wichita, the last measurable moisture of at least one quarter of an inch was 104 days ago, in late November. It's been dry enough statewide for Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer to declare drought emergency, warnings and watches for all 105 Kansas counties.
Colyer issued drought declarations Tuesday at a press conference with Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey and Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter.
“The entire State of Kansas has been considered in drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several weeks,” Colyer says. “This has led to an extremely high risk of fire hazards and many have already occurred.”
The drought declaration placed 28 counties in emergency status, 29 into warning status and 48 into a watch status.
The governor's office says Streeter, who also serves as the Chair of the governor's Drought Response Team, recommended the action.
Over the past six months, the governor's office says, the statewide average precipitation was 66 percent of the normal amount. In January and February, that average was just 43 percent of what's typically expected for moisture this time of year.
“While wildfires are the most urgent concern at this point, water supplies can be dramatically impacted in a very short period of time, especially as we start to enter into spring and summer months,” Streeter says. “The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to monitor the situation closely as future outlooks call for drought persisting and make recommendations to the Governor as necessary.”