Rains help bring Manhattan out of drought, cause Wildcat Creek to rise to flood levels

By Brady Bauman

Recent rains —especially last night’s —have put the Manhattan area ahead in the annual precipitation game.

K-State’s weather lab measured 2.72 inches of rainfall on campus between 7 a.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday. The Manhattan area is now up 4.99 inches from the average for the month and 2.87 inches above normal for the year.

Wildcat Creek reached “moderate” flooding levels overnight, hitting 17.53 feet at Scenic Drive around 2 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Anything over 14 feet is considered flood level for the creek, which historically has overflowed and caused problems for nearby residents. No damage was reported and the water level was back to about 11 feet at press time.

State climatologist Mary Knapp, who also directs KSU’s weather lab, said the trend of greater precipitation in the area is likely to continue after three straight years of drought.

“We ended the year 2.57 inches behind in 2011, 13.72 inches behind in 2012, and last year we ended 4.40 inches (behind normal),” she said.

That’s a three-year total of 20.69 inches in the rainfall deficit.

Knapp continued that the area was behind for most of the year until May with some ebbs and flows. She said wetter than normal weather is predicted to continue for June.

Last year, Knapp said rainfall totals trailed eight months out of the year, with an exceptionally dry stretch from May to September.

Still, recent rains have come too late for wheat farmers - both in the area and state-wide.

“The damage is done for wheat farmers,” Knapp said. “Early drought and freeze damage have hurt the crop. There might be a few good pockets in places, but for a majority of the wheat the damage is already done.”

“A number of (farmers) have totaled out their wheat fields already.”

There could be hope for corn growers, though.

“Corn producers are happy as long as their fields aren’t flooded out,” Knapp said.

The rains have also brought cooler temperatures.

Monday saw a high of just 65 degrees. Knapp said the predicted average was 84.

Knapp also said El Nino weather effects, which originate from warmer ocean temperatures in the Pacific and can stimulate strong storms, are expected at the end of the summer.

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