Tag Archives: drought

Dry County – prayers for rain

ImageLast Year I wrote extensively about the drought conditions here in Kansas.

Luckily, we had a very wet winter and spring this year, catching us up on our annual precipitation data, but since the beginning of June, the rain has stopped (maybe even longer, I’m just relying on memory, not real data here).

As much as I dislike hot weather, I dislike drought even more. I feel as though I, as well as my plants and yard, get my energy from the rain. And this year is shaping up a lot like last year.

More than just feeling better when it rains, I was really hoping for a wetter year this year to help replace some of the trees that died in our yard from last summer’s conditions. Despite my efforts in setting up automatic watering systems and taking garbage barrels of water to our parched trees, I simply couldn’t keep up.

This year, my strategy was to get cheap, small trees from Walmart and Home Depot to at least lower the financial risk (we spent about $1k last year and lost every one of the trees we planted in addition to others throughout the yard). This year, our investment is only around $150 and we have about twice as many new trees as last year.

Anyway, here’s some actual data from NOAA that illustrates our wet spring + dry summer:

Current Condition: Abnormally Dry


Year to date: KC at ~100% or better precipitation


Spring Data (April 1 – May31): Already Drying up (~60%)


(I guess the rain stopped earlier than I remembered)

Although there is no data available for the current period, I don’t think we’ve had so much as a shower since May 31.



ps- just to clarify, I don’t live in a dry county – that would be intolerable.


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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Counties Declared in Drought Emergency Summer 2012 (4)

It would be easy to forget that we are still in a fairly severe drought in the midwest. Over the summer of 2012 82 counties in Kansas were declared as federal drought emergencies in early July 2012. Just two weeks later governor Sam Brownback declared every county in the state to be in a drought emergency. Each declaration has different meanings as the first allows for federal aid for agriculture and related industries, while the second allowed water to be taken from lakes in state parks to aid the same industries(1,2). 


100% of Kansa counties in drought emergency August 2012

This summer the drought was hard to miss. Ponds were down to puddles, crops were failing and getting tilled back into the soil all around, trees were turning autumn colors and dying in July and lawns were dead with the ground dry and cracked.

Personally, I’ve never seen anything like it. Apparently, this was the worst drought in 25 years, if not more. Not long after, the East coast was getting hit by freakishly early winter storms and ‘superstore Sandy’. (I got regular updates from my family, who all live in the mid-Atlantic region).

Now, on the last days of December, the drought feels like a thing of the past, however, we are still in severe conditions here in the Midwest (I live in Kansas). I heard yesterday on NPR that Kansas is still 17″ below normal rainfall, and a quick look to the NOAA shows that the entire state is somewhere between ‘severe’ and ‘exceptional’ conditions (3). 

With luck, I will be shoveling endlessly this winter and we can recover somewhat by spring.


I want to apologize, I haven’t been posting much lately because my family has been away and I have spent most of every day outside working on the shop from first light until dark and then collapsed exhausted inside. 

I did have some time while waiting for my wife’s car in the shop yesterday to get a simple children’s book I wrote for/with my son put together as an iBook. It was submitted yesterday and will likely be available for free download sometime this coming week. I’ll post again when that’s available. (Don’t expect much though, the original was a hand-drawn mini book that I redrew using Fifty Three, Inc.’s ‘Paper’ App and an artist’s stylus… and I’m not that much of an artist)








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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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You will soon witness a miracle

On friday I had lunch at Panda – something -or-other at the mall. Along with my orange chicken and spring roll I got a fortune cookie with fortune the likes of which I have never before seen: “You will soon witness a miracle.” That’s a little off-putting. I mean, miracles only seem warranted when something really bad has happened. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Then, I totally forgot about it. However, last night, I was reminded of that amazingly powerful cookie when the weatherman showed the extended forecast. Rain, cool days with high temperatures that might allow some time outside. Amazing!

I’ve made so much noise here complaining about the heat and lack of rain leading to the end of the world as I saw it that I thought it was my duty to write now.

There is a change in the air. The weathervane has spun about and a cool breeze is settling across our little patch of the midwest. Mary Poppins has floated into town with her miracle-filled carpet bag stuffed chock with cool mornings, thunderstorms and the chance of a drenching rain later in the week.

With a spoon full of sugar she is attempting to nurse our lifeless grass and trees back to health. I only hope that she has magic enough to bring back the dead (I can’t recall any resurrections in the original) But I did have a dream last night that there was a hint of green grass poking through the ground in our yard, so I have my fingers crossed.

I still have a horribly dreary outlook for the region here and all the dead trees and miserably large landscaping I am imagining, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a dark stormcloud on the horizon.




Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Hot weather and drought conditions continue

It’s still hot as the blazes here in Kansas. Spending July traveling to rainy, cooler places has really made me want to pick up and move away from here as soon as possible.

Our soil has long since cracked open and started to blow around as loose dust whenever the wind picks up. I hear the actual dustbowl was much worse and really did include giant dust storms like those I imagine on Mars. So we are by no means there yet. Although, is comparing today to the absolute worst conditions on record really much to feel grateful about?

A look into the crystal ball:

The weather say that we are in for a break in the heat sometime in the next few days. With some luck it’ll get down to the low to mid 90s (and even one day predicted to be 89 degrees!) Unfortunately, the cooler conditions don’t appear to be bringing rain with them.

So, if you are getting rain – go out and take some pleasure in it. Let it soak into your skin and drip down your face. Splash in the puddles and sing in the rain. It’s the stuff of life! 



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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Not much, but we did actually get some rain last night. I saw the proof this morning when I fed our (outdoor) cat. I can’t say that I believe things are turning around in a meaningful way, but I do have some hope now.

Keep your fingers crossed for us here.

By the way, today is day3 of P90X. I haven’t done the workout yet, but I’m dreading it as I don’t have a muscle in my body that isn’t screaming in pain.


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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The word ‘desertification’ keeps coming to mind

Here I am moaning and complaining about the weather again. But I just can’t stand these deathly hot, dry days one after another after another.

I’m reminded of a Star Trek Next Generation episode where Captain Picard wakes up in another man’s life. In this life he’s married and a naturalist who discovers that his planet is suffering from a world-wide drought and, in fact, this life experience is a window into the culture of an extinct world. This isn’t a very good explanation – check it out yourself. The episode is called “Inner Light.”

Please don’t let this drought be the Midwest’s Inner Light. At least not while I’m living here.


OK, in other news, I just posted another article to AppCampus about how I think video games can be harnessed to improve education in the sciences (or perhaps any subject).

I also need to put together the work we did here on the Blackjack program (codecademy project) into a neat posting for that site’s message board. I think the whole code with sufficient notation and some commentary should be a valuable contribution there.



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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Everything is dead

Coming back to Kansas was a shock.

I feel like I was back in time – or on another planet – when we were abroad. Not just because of the richness of the culture and change in geography (topology), but because it felt like I was in a place that was alive. The temperature fluctuated between 50s and 70s with rain off and on the entire time we were there. The trees were green and the grass was thick. The rivers were all cresting from the surfeit of rain that was falling. The land was ALIVE.

Here in Kansas, everything is brown or yellow and it’s all dead. The corn is dead or dying in the fields. The yard has almost no grass left. The trees are dead.

Everything is DEAD.


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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A hot day for it

No surprise, the forecast for today is exactly the same as it’s been for the past several weeks: 103F and full sun. Great day for a ballgame. Today, my son and I are driving up to Topeka to meet my cousins (whom I guess we haven’t seen for several years not) at a baseball game. Our cousin Grant is playing ball with a great plains league this week and we’re looking forward to seeing him play. All the news is that he’s a great player with a bright future.

I admit that I’m not eager to sit out in the sun, but it’s worth it to see family. We would have liked to have them visit, but we’re off on a trip to Germany tomorrow, so it just couldn’t work out without fraying some nerves.

Hope you all had a good fourth of July holiday (if that’s your thing). I may not be posting that much over the next week – but it’s not because I’ve forgotten about it.  I’m still thinking hard about getting mastermind into XCode. And I’ve also thought about how I should be getting our ‘Pushing Twain’ App resubmitted to Apple as well.

I guess I’m still wallowing in some self-pity about how hard it has been to get the Push-Quote series completed properly. A lot of work went into that and we have only one App in the store, it’s a bit buggy and in need of an update. How do you guys handle professional rejection? Better than me, I hope.

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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Continuing to fry in the Heartland

I’ve given up on going outside much. The heat has remained constant except for a small window of milder temperature in the mornings. The forecast going forward is still entirely three digit temperatures (100 today, then 102,103,102,103…). The only salvation is late in the week when we get a veritable arctic blast that brings us down to the low 90s. Luckily, the cool air is also bringing the first chance of precipitation in what feels like years.

By the time that change in the weather rolls around we will have given up and sought refuge elsewhere. Since we met more than ten years ago, we’ve been saving up for years to go abroad. This week we’re flying to Germany with our son to tour the ‘Castle Road’ from Cologne down to Munich  – we did our best to make the trip as ‘touristy’ as possible for the benefit of the little guy. And I have never in my life been happier to hear that the a vacation will be cold and rainy.

What brings this latest whining about the weather though?

It’s mostly because I’ve been starving for exercise. Yesterday I had to run on a treadmill while my son was at karate and it was pretty yukky. I forgot my earphones, so I didn’t have anything to listen to or watch while I ran – I could barely even see into the karate studio from where the treadmill was located – so there was nothing for it but to concentrate on the run. That wasn’t something I really wanted to do given that I haven’t run a bit since getting my mountain bike and I could feel from the start just how out of shape I am.

I think this is the worst rambling post I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something, so I’ll cut this off right here and try to post my work on the mastermind puzzle and start my day in the real world.

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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Heat, Drought and Fireworks

Our little hometown newpaper had a note from the fire-chief that I thought was both amusing and a bit scary. It’s been 100+ degrees for about as long as I can remember here. And I’m not sure that it’s rained at all since March. So, the ground is dry, the ponds and creeks have turned to dirt (they were mud for a while, but that dried up) and just about every piece of vegetation dried up and turned to kindling.

Naturally, it makes sense to remind people that Colorado is on fire and things aren’t going well because the midwest (at least) has dried up and is on its way to becoming a desert, so perhaps now if not the best times to light any fires that aren’t very carefully controlled.

Oh, but wait – it’s July 1 tomorrow – and that means the fourth of July is only a couple days away. Let me check the forecast… huh, 100 degrees or hotter every day and 0% chance of precipitation. Have I mentioned that we’re in Kansas? So the worst thing in the world you can do is have the government make a suggestion to the people. That leaves our poor fire-chief in a tight spot for counseling caution when setting off fireworks.

He was very vague and didn’t say not to do anything. He just said, “Considering how hot and dry it’s been, it might be a good idea to aim your twirling firey whizz poppers over water. And keep a fire extinguisher on hand. And a bucket of water. And a hose. And… well, call me as soon as things get even slightly out of control. Please.”


I have my fingers crossed. Our house backs up to some woods that all look like they could spontaneously combust just from the heat – even without and added flame or spark.


Have a fun 4th of July to all my American friends. And please cross your fingers for us if you’re from elsewhere and just watching the show.Image

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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


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