It rained yesterday morning—a gentle shower that disappeared into the oh-so-dry earth where I live. Everyone is grateful.
In early October, Governor Laura Kelly approved updated drought declarations for Kansas counties—all 105 of them. Take your pick. Watch, warning, or emergency drought status, Kansas has it.
The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) also keeps an eye on drought. Perhaps you've seen some of their color-coded maps similar to the one pictured above for Kansas.
The NIDIS emphasizes that several drought indicators, for example,
Armed with facts, the NIDIS doesn’t mince words. Droughts fall into one of its four categories.
October usually brings rain to Kansas, but a quick peek at the October 20th report of the NIDIS tells me that my county is now in “exceptional drought.” Moreover, the outlook for the next three months is...drought.
Oklahoma, the main setting for two of my novels, Cloud County Persuasion and Cloud County Harvest, isn’t doing much better. Approximately 82% of the state is in extreme drought and 29% in exceptional drought.
Drought is part of life on the Great Plains. Some of the characters in my fictional Cloud County are old enough to have experienced five droughts.
For a present-day suburbanite like me, the short-term effects are veiled with widespread air-conditioning, city water not-yet-rationed, big blue skies and clear sunshine. I shift my outdoor gardening, long walks, and bicycle rides to the cooler early morning hours of the day.
Nonetheless, dried-out lawns, dried-up crops and creeks, low levels in ponds and lakes, burn bans, and record-breaking temperatures shout, "Pay attention." Many people reply, "Drought is part of life here. Nature will take care of it."
The total population of the USA has doubled to more than 331,000,000 since the 1950s of Cloud County Harvest. It looks like Mother Nature needs a little more help from us.
Lynne Schall is the author of three novels: Women's Company - The Minerva Girls (2016), Cloud County Persuasion (2018), and Cloud County Harvest (November 2022). She and her family live in Kansas, USA, where she is writing her fourth novel, Book 3 in the Cloud County trilogy.