It’s still hot.
It is simply not getting any less hot any time soon.
Not only that.
But it is also dry.
And it is not getting any less dry any time soon.
Barton County is in the midst of what is nationally being referred to as a “heat dome” and conditions are getting serious for everyone from farmers and livestock producers to families who have to budget for climbing utility bills.
According to weather officials, it’s not changing any time soon, either.
Barton County and the surrounding area remained in an excessive heat warning Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service Office in Wichita, with highs forecast to be well over 100 degrees.
The only precipitation forecast for days to come was listed as “slight chance” and the rest of the forecast was just hot and dry.
And those conditions are forecast to continue into the middle of next week, and then some.
According to weather experts, average temperatures for this time of year should be more than 10 degrees cooler than what is being seen.
This year’s weather is much closer to the recorded high temperature records.
All around the nation, the “heat dome” continues to put stress on people, animals, and the infrastructure.
Locally, the reaction again this week was to continue the county-wide ban on open burning, in the hopes that range fires could be controlled.
Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller told the Barton County Commission that local fire departments had another busy week last week in response to grass and range fires. Conditions are right for a serious range fire, due to disastrously dry condition and the amount of fuel that is available. All that is needed is a minor spark, and that is why open burning is such a risk right now.
According to the Associated Press, the weather is more than just expensive or uncomfortable. It is dangerous.
“Ranchers in parts of Kansas are hauling their spring cattle to auction barns because a drought and the brutal heat have made it difficult to provide the water and hay needed to keep the animals healthy, according to a state agency.
“Some auction markets are seeing more than triple the number of cattle at weekly sales than they typically have at this time of year, the Kansas “Agricultural Statistics Service said. For example, 14,500 head of cattle were taken to sale rings at Pratt, Salina and Dodge City last week. Last year, those auction markets sold just 4,300 head.”
And conditions just continue to get more serious, the AP reported this week.
“Some areas of southwest Kansas haven’t received a good rain for more than a year. Large cattle-producing areas like Comanche County had just 1.49 inches at Coldwater from January through June, said Larry Ruthi, with the National Weather Service’s Dodge City office.
“It also has been the driest July through July on record for Dodge City, with about 8 inches of rain falling during the period, Ruthi said.
And temperatures have reached past 100 degrees more than 30 days in a row for much of southern Kansas, with no significant rain forecast for the near future.
“Waiting for his cattle to sell, Gary Sterneker, a Cunningham-area rancher, said he’s running out of hay, with only a 30 percent yield this year. His ponds are also empty and he’s been using track hoes to dig deeper for water.
“‘Everyone is in the same situation,’ Sterneker said. ‘We’ll just be playing it by ear. Without rain in a couple weeks, we’ll have to do something different.’
“Moreover, he added, ‘We don’t need an inch of rain. We need lots of inches of rain.’”