More Bad Drought Reporting

Drought is a real problem. But this just pisses me off:

Each night before going to bed, cattle rancher Barrett Broadie prays for rain. More such prayers follow on Sunday mornings, when he and his neighbors meet for church services in Ashland, a town of about 1,000 in southwestern Kansas.

It’s been eight years since Broadie, 36, returned to Ashland to buy the ranch his family homesteaded in 1884. In those eight years, the few showers they have gotten were too small to leave any water runoff.

There’s a co-op weather station in Ashland. There’s a century of data up on the Western Regional Climate Center web site. (Farmers make great co-op observers. They’ve got skin in the climate game.) This year has been dry. Three of the previous seven years, the Ashland co-op observer reported above-average precipitation.

Most cries for help come from the northwest and southwest quarters of the state – which have been struggling with the harsh arid weather for several years – but this year the drought is so widespread calls are coming in from across the state, he says.

In the southwest Kansas climate division, 10 of the years since 1991 have been wetter than the long term mean, 6 have been drier. 2003, 2004 and 2005 were all wetter than average.

Northwest Kansas, on the other hand, has been genuinely dry. Beginning in 2000, they’ve only had two wet years.

Variability is a normal part of climate. When we’re thinking about how to help people in drought, we need to use care in distinguishing between people merely in a typical dry patch and people living through genuinely unusual times.


  1. Pingback: jfleck at inkstain » Blog Archive » Bad Drought Reporting: A Visual Aid

  2. Hmmmm. It was AP that indicated earlier this year that there was no drought. They did that last year as well.

    And now they think the world is coming to an end.

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