The Hutchinson News
Kansas' prolonged drought continues to ease across Kansas, but conditions for the next few weeks in western Kansas could kick up dust.
Mike Umscheid, with the National Weather Service in Dodge City, was watching closely as conditions were ripe for dust storms Friday afternoon. Wind speeds were 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph - enough to cause some localized events in farm fields. However, the wind wasn't blowing as hard as previously thought, and didn't cause major storms with low visibility.
However, dust storms could perk up again over the next few weeks, he said.
"We are particularly vulnerable to dust storms in October," he said. "October tends to be one of our windier months."
Rain would help, he noted, adding that farmers are out planting winter wheat and helping to spread dust.
"Once the wheat comes up a little bit, it will keep the soil down," he said. "But for the next couple weeks (the area) will be vulnerable."
That includes midweek, Umscheid said. Winds will pick up, possibly with prolonged gusts of 55 to 65 mph, which will cause dust storms.
Moreover, little rain is forecast in western Kansas to help settle blowing dirt.
Still, he noted, scattered showers have helped the lingering drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 4 percent of the state is in an extreme drought - all of which is located in western Kansas. About 32 percent of the state is in a severe drought, also largely in western Kansas.
About 46 percent of the state is not in a drought.