Gordon D. Fiedler Jr. The Salina Journal March 15's record high temperature of 87 degrees might have been a delightful respite for cabin fever sufferers, but that number didn't belong in a month that was cooler than average. A graph of that one-day record resembles a rocket trajectory more than a temperature fluctuation. From a 40-degree high on March 10, the mercury blasted to 77 degrees on the 14th, then soared past the 1914 record of 82 degrees before falling like a spent fuel booster to 55 on March 16 and to 42 the next day. A late March warm-up could do no better than a pair of back-to-back 74-degree readings on March 29 and 30. Even with that 87-degree thermal anomaly, the average high temperature for March was only 53 degrees. The average low was 31. March's record low temperatures remain untouched. The coldest morning was March 26, when Salinans awoke to a frosty 15 degrees. So much for an early summer. The record high for the month of 96 degrees, set on March 21, 1907, is safe for another year, as is the record low of minus 11 set on March 11, 1948. The mean temperature for March was 42.5 degrees, about 2 degrees cooler than the record mean. It's the drought But the big story continues to be the drought. March recorded a paltry 0.68 of an inch of precipitation, the third consecutive March that came up short in the moisture department. The year 2010 seemed to break the dry streak when 2.36 inches of precipitation fell and deposited a meager 0.17 of an inch in March's moisture bank. But every March thereafter has failed to hit the average. Salina received 1.13 inches in 2011 and 1.87 inches in 2012. Last month's 0.68 of an inch of moisture made March 2013 the 11th driest March since 1931. Figures weren't that much better for the January through March period, when on average Salina receives 3.92 inches of moisture in the first three months of the year. The year-to-date average was missed in three of the past four years. The year 2012 was the exception with 4.04 inches on the ground by the end of March, which foretold a wet year. Instead, the Salina area missed the average annual precipitation of 30.43 inches that year by more than 10 inches, the second consecutive year to register a shortage. If the dry trend continues, 2013 will be year three of a drought, a situation that is worrisome to farmers, particularly in light of a recent report by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Using U.S. Drought Monitor figures, 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion Internet site, listed Kansas second behind Nebraska among the seven driest states in the lower 48. According to its analysis, almost 97 percent of the state is in severe drought, more than 64 percent is in extreme drought and almost 22 percent is in exceptional drought. Falling in line behind Kansas are, in order, New Mexico, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming and Oklahoma. In its examination of the state, 24/7 Wall St. has this to say about Kansas: "Wheat production was up 38 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, although the drought affecting the state probably will make this level of production unsustainable for 2013." "I would agree with that," said Justin Gilpin, CEO of the Kansas Wheat Growers and Kansas Wheat Commission. "Overall, we're definitely expecting a smaller crop than last year," Gilpin said. Depending on the part of the state, the recent rain and snow helped or did nothing at all. "From Colby east, it definitely benefited some of that wheat that was able to get up and get established," Gilpin said. The Goodland area isn't that fortunate. "Some of that wheat didn't come up," he said. "Even this spring, it hadn't emerged yet."