A rainy spell welcome news in Wichita

The past two weeks have seen more than four inches of rain fall in Wichita. That’s good news for a parched region, but meteorologists say Wichita is still below normal for the year.

As of Wednesday morning, 4.73 inches of rain has fallen in Wichita. That’s 1.67 inches above normal for this point of the month. But even this wet June has merely raised the rainfall total for the year to 11.34 inches. That’s more than 3 inches below normal for the year.

“It's just filling up the cracks,” National Weather Service meteorologist Leon Wasinger said of the recent rains.

By comparison, Wichita at this time last year was at 16.17 for the year, nearly 2 inches above normal.

The precipitation news is not good out west, however. Dodge City has recorded only .26 of an inch so far this month, more than 2 inches below normal.

Dodge has recorded only 3.28 inches all year, more than 7.5 inches below normal.

“We are still in severe drought,” said Larry Ruthi, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service branch in Dodge City.

It’s even worse down in Elkhart, in the southwestern corner of the state. Only 2.08 inches of rain have fallen in all of 2011.

“Elkhart hasn't had anything there, for all practical purposes,” Ruthi said. “It’s extremely dry.”

The Climate Prediction Center projects the drought easing at least somewhat in all of southern and western Kansas over the next three months. But Ruthi’s not buying it.

A ridge of high pressure is settling in over the southwest United States, he said, and it could spread into southwest Kansas.

“They tend to lock in for much of the summer,” Ruthi said.

That’ll push rains north and east of parched places like Dodge City, Elkhart and Liberal. Asked if that translates into a long, hot, dry summer for the region, Ruthi offered a grim answer.

“It very well could be.”