flooding

Elly Sneath / Kansas State University Research and Extension

WICHITA, Kansas — Trees improve air quality. They keep people and homes cool with shade. They block the breezes that rake across the Kansas plains.

New research suggests the trees planted by people who filled up Kansas over the last century-plus also made the region more susceptible to hard-to-fight fires.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism stands to lose millions of dollars after record spring rains led to park closures, property damage and washed-out roads.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

HARTFORD, Kansas — Some of Kansas’ major reservoirs are filling up with sediment, and if something isn’t done to address the issue, parts of eastern Kansas could see water shortages and insufficient flood control as soon as 30 years from now.

To help slow down the slow, but consistent, reduction of usable water storage in Kansas’ reservoirs, the Kansas Water Office is trying to help farmers in critical areas upstream of the lakes to reduce the water running off from their fields.

But if that isn’t widely accepted, state officials say taxpayers may have to pay millions more just to keep the water flowing.

Ashley and Erin Watt

WICHITA — Ashley and Erin Watt have always enjoyed the outdoors.

Over the years, they’ve spent a lot of time floating down the Arkansas River in south-central Kansas. Because of record-setting rains this spring, the two didn’t make their first kayak trip down the river until mid-August.

But what started as a leisurely trip ended with a remarkable discovery.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

The month of May was an all-timer in Kansas, as sites across the state recorded rain on all but two days. The deluge broke state and local rainfall records as well as setting several high water marks in Kansas’ rivers, streams, and reservoirs.

Overflowing rivers and reservoirs across Kansas are already producing significant flooding, particularly in the southeast corner of the state.

But, forecasters say, things could get much worse over the next several days as slow-moving thunderstorms develop over central and northeast Kansas.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

Communities along the Ninnescah River in western Sedgwick County are watching closely for possible flooding due to water releases at Cheney Reservoir.

Missouri River overflowing its banks
Andrea Tudhope/KCUR 89.3

Major flooding on stretches of the Missouri River from Nebraska and Iowa through Kansas and Missouri resulted in several breached levees and significant damage to cities, towns, and farmland in March. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the threat of even more flooding isn’t over yet.

Farmers along the Missouri River and its tributaries are still assessing damage from recent flooding.

But beyond the farms in parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, there’s visible evidence that the impacts are far-reaching and long-lasting — closed interstates and rerouted trains — key cogs in a global agriculture economy.

Brian Grimmett

Kansas experienced its 23rd-wettest year on record in 2018, according to weather data that goes back as far as 1895. 

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