August 13, 2013

Only one August has seen more rain in Wichita history

Believe it or not, there have been wetter Augusts than this one in Wichita.

Believe it or not, there have been wetter Augusts than this one in Wichita.

Well, make that one August.

With 0.13 of an inch of rain recorded early Tuesday, 2013 vaulted to second on the list, trailing only August 2005.

“There’s just no clear signal as to when this pattern is going to change,” said Scott Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service branch in Wichita. “The way things are going, we could definitely give 2005 a run for the money.”

Through Tuesday, only one day in August – this past Saturday – has not registered at least a trace of precipitation. Measurable rain has fallen on 10 of the month’s first 13 days.

The early morning sprinkles lifted the rainfall total for this month to 8.63 inches, breaking a tie with 1933.

By early evening, the total had jumped to 10.28 inches after a steady shower dumped another 1.65 inches of water across Wichita, said Robb Lawson, another meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita.

That’s still more than 1.5 inches shy of the 2005 record of 11.96 inches – but there’s still more than half the month to go.

Records have been kept since 1888.

“Are we going to reach the record? I’m not sure,” Lawson said.

The next chance for rainfall is Thursday, he added.

“But I think we have a good chance at it.”

A shower pummeled Wichita on Tuesday afternoon, dumping more than an inch of rain in 25 minutes at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Heavy rain also fell just north of Wichita early Tuesday.

A trained spotter a mile northwest of Benton reported 2.3 inches of rain, and reports of 1.5 to 2 inches were widespread across Reno, Harvey and Butler counties.

Northern Sedgwick County also got in on the act, with 1.88 inches of rain reported in Bel Aire.

The Kansas Department of Emergency Management will hold a conference call with county officials around the state on Wednesday to gather damage estimates for a potential state declaration of disaster, said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the KDEM.

A state disaster declaration will be sought if the combined damage estimates reach $3.9 million, she said. The declaration would help counties pay for the cost of repairing roads and bridges damaged by the flood.

Some rural electric cooperatives have also sustained damage in the flooding, Watson said.

Local disaster declarations are already in place in Barton, Bourbon, Chase, Clay, Cloud, Crawford, Dickinson, Greenwood, Harvey, Lane, Linn, Lyon, McPherson, Pratt, Reno, Republic, Rice and Wilson counties, according to state officials.

About 2 inches of rain fell in perhaps 20 minutes early Tuesday afternoon in Russell, triggering street flooding. Heavy rain was also reported in McPherson County.

“It’s almost like the Gulf of Mexico is in central Kansas right now,” said Chris Jakub, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the weather service.

Dew points are consistently in the 70s, he said, which means there’s abundant moisture in the atmosphere for storms to tap into. It creates the ideal setup for heavy rain – and more flooding.

“It’s a broken record,” Smith said.

And soon enough, it could be.

Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle

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