MANHATTAN, Kan. – Dry, windy and hot weather collide in southwestern Kansas. This causes droughts, reduced crops and a an increased possibility of wildfires.


According to a Kansas State University study, the conditions are happening more frequently than they used to in western Kansas and west Texas.


"We found increases in the frequency of hot, dry, windy events over time that indicate new and different patterns in the Great Plains," Vahid Rahmani, an assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering at K-State, said in a news release. "This research showed the highest frequency of hot, dry, windy events occurred in western Kansas southward into Texas for the period 1949 to 2018."


The study, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Ogallala Aquifer Program, was published in the Sept. 24, 2020 edition of Nature Research Scientific Reports.


In Rahmani’s team’s research, the scientists found that the largest number of annual hot, dry, windy events occurred in Dodge City with 60 occurrences. Crop damage can occur from just a few hours of hot - greater than 95 degrees, dry - less then 30% humidity - and windy events.


According to K-State, the trend toward increased days of very hot, dry, windy events is significant in the western Great Plains. Farmers can use theses findings to make irrigation, water management and planting decisions.


"The higher temperatures associated with climate change may increase the frequency of extreme hot, dry, windy events," Rahmani said in a release. "Hot, dry, windy events have implications beyond crop production. Wind-driven wildfires can occur in areas that never experienced them before. Adaptation and mitigation strategies may need to be adjusted to effectively cope with the negative impacts of these events."


K-State reported the highest station-based average of annual hot, dry, windy events in the central United States occurred during the droughts of 1980, 2011, and 2012. For the 1949-2018 period, the highest averages of annual hot, dry, windy events were 45 and 31 in 2011 and 1980, respectively.