Wichita area sees record rainfall. What does that mean for the state’s ongoing drought?

Wichita broke a weather record Wednesday, measuring 4.17 inches of rain at Wichita’s Eisenhower Airport, according to a National Weather Service social media post.

But what does that mean for the state’s drought?

As of Oct. 24, total precipitation was 10.74 inches below normal, Vanessa Pearce, forecaster for the National Weather Service, said. The totals from the recent rainfall won’t be taken into account for the drought update until next week, but Pearce said forecasters are expecting a little bit of improvement.

“Given the amount of rain that’s occurred, there will definitely probably be improvement and especially in areas that had a higher amount,” Pearce said. “Specifically like, Lyon County, I mean they had over 8 inches recorded.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest update, Sedgwick County is still experiencing dry conditions countywide, with a sliver of the county experiencing “extreme drought.” The majority of Sedgwick is reported as being in a “severe drought.”

The state has experienced drought-like conditions for over a year now, a hydrologist told The Wichita Eagle in June.

“I’d say about August of last year, we started to see more noticeable impacts of extreme to moderate drought in [the] southern, southeastern part of Kansas, [and] it just spread out,” Janet Salazar, hydrologist with the NWS, said in June.

Pearce said although the rainfall totals the past couple of days will bring the area closer to normal precipitation, there’s still a way to go before we’re officially out of the drought.

“We’re still going to be six inches [below normal] now, depending on how much rain we get throughout the day,” Pearce said.

Kansas is starting to see less dry weather, expecting not only more rain in the coming days but also cooler temps, with highs in the 40s and 50s this weekend.

Rain is expected to continue the next few days. The National Weather Service Forecast shows a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms Thursday, with the rain clearing out in the evening. The rain is expected to return on Saturday, with a 40% chance throughout the day. Sunday could see both rain and snow.