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Stories focused on energy & environment topics throughout the state of Kansas.

Kansas Rains Are Shifting From Summer To Spring

Brian Grimmett
A thunderstorm rolls through the Flint Hills in central Kansas

New research shows that Kansas is slowly seeing a shift in when it gets its rainfall during the year.

Depending on the region, Kansas typically receives between 35 percent and 41 percent of its annual precipitation during the summer months of June, July and August. But during the past 100 years, that trend is slowly shifting toward the spring.

“An increasingly wet spring may put a need to make some adjustments in terms of agricultural production,” Kansas State Geography professor John Harrington said. 

He also adds those changes will be gradual and occur over decades.

An analysis of precipitation records from the past 100 years also showed that eastern Kansas is getting wetter, while southwestern Kansas is getting dryer.

“Now, this won’t happen next year or the year after," Harrington said. "But when we add things up for a decade or two we might tend to see that, 'Wow, southwestern Kansas has gotten a little bit less precipitation.' ”

The paper, co-authored by undergraduate student Caitlin Dye, also suggests that rain events will intensify in Kansas.

“The whole system is trapping much more energy in the system than it did even 40 years ago,” Harrington said.

That means storms will likely be stronger in the future than in the past.

Brian Grimmett reports on the environment and energy for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett.

Coverage of energy and the environment is made possible in part by ITC Great Plains and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

Brian Grimmett is a two-time Regional Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist covering energy and environment stories across the state of Kansas.