Thursday’s rain only the opening act, forecasters say

The light rain that doused the Wichita metropolitan area early Thursday morning is just the opening act in what could become a welcome pattern of occasional showers over the next several days in the region, forecasters say.

Another round of showers is anticipated over the weekend, National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Howerton said.

While perhaps only a quarter of an inch may result from the next chance for rain, Howerton said, “the amounts will go up if we can get it started earlier in the day on Saturday.”

The best chances for rain in the Wichita area arrive Saturday night, he said.

Thunderstorms will be embedded in storm system moving through the region over the weekend. Hail up to one inch in diameter and winds up to 55 miles an hour will be possible, forecasters say.

Thursday’s rain brought .21 of an inch to Wichita, and much heavier amounts in central and north central Kansas.

“They got quite a bit more than we did,” weather service meteorologist Jerilyn Billings said of northern Kansas, including 2.81 inches at Kanopolis Lake.

Forecast models suggest another chance for rain in the region arrives the middle of next week.

It’s too soon to pin meaningful precipitation estimates to that system, Howerton said, and he’s not optimistic the totals will be substantial anyway since Kansas looks to be on the northern fringes anyway.

Kate Danna, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said indications of a rain event the middle of next week are “too weak to even mention at this point.”

But anything will be welcome for an area that, according to the Climate Prediction Center, needs 3 to 6 inches of rain for the drought to be eliminated. That’s why Howerton and Billings were happy with Thursday’s rain, light as it was.

“We’re glad to get something here,” Howerton said.