KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I’m back from vacation starting today so that’s a change I guess. The weather though hasn’t changed since I’ve left, at least from a moisture standpoint. There were some drought showers last week (rain that mostly evaporates), and there are a few chances this week, but there is still no strong system likely to impact our area for awhile.

I did notice the “early” start to the leaf colors. That’s in response to the drought conditions that have expanded and increased in intensity over the past weeks. Remember how last fall we still had more than usual colors into late November around here? My thoughts are that won’t be the case this season.

We’ve had some pretty strong temperature variations though: some patchy frost in the region, and for some a filling freeze already. More of these ups and downs are expected for the next couple of weeks at least.

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Kansas City Forecast:

Today: Sunny and warm with highs in the lower 80s.

Tonight: Increasing clouds (fine for the game though) with a small chance of a few isolated morning showers. Lows in the lower 60s. Windy as well.

Tomorrow: Partly cloudy with highs back into the lower 80s.

Wednesday: There may be some early morning showers that move away before dawn. This is our best chance of rain locally. Cooler and windy with highs in the mid-to-upper 60s.

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Discussion:

Thought I’d start with the elephant in the room: the persistent drought that has expanded in the region. In the big picture, this has been going on for the last few months. It started back in early July really when the dry spell seemed to really kick in, spreading from the south side eastwards.

Current drought condition on the left with a previous report back on July 5th

The orange and red colors are the severe-to-extreme drought levels. Notice a LOT more red these days on the map on the left. That’s not good.

We’ve had 10.28 inches of rain since June 1.

Overall, 9.07 inches below average since June 1.

Your results locally may be worse than that (especially on the Missouri side), or better that that, but still it’s not good. We had a wet May in many areas. KCI had over 3 inches above average. Since then though… ouch.

You can see it everywhere. Ponds are real low. The ground is dried out, where it hasn’t been watered. The trees are stressed and dropping leaves in many areas. Hopefully something changes, but while some rain is likely (especially Tuesday night), any big storms will have to wait for quite some time it appears.

Here is a look at the last 120 days or so in terms of precipitation anomalies:

Weather around the U.S.

New Mexico and Arizona have done well this summer and early fall for moisture. Remember back in the mid-spring all the devastating wildfires out there, especially in New Mexico? Not any more.

The drought is also impacting the major rivers. Both the Missouri and Mississippi river basins are running low now. That is affecting barge traffic and water quality.

Farther north into Nebraska:

We’re definitely not alone.

Early-to-mid-fall around here can be dry. Typically stronger cold fronts sweep through as the jet stream becomes more energized. These stronger fronts sweep moisture farther southwards, and that moisture then has a tougher time returning towards the Plains ahead of the next front sweeping in. So the timing of all the things needed to get rain around here can get thrown off.

When will it rain again in Kansas City?

So will it rain? There are some chances. One is tonight as some scattered showers try and move towards the region. Aloft we’ll be in west-southwest flow blowing towards the east-northeast. This will allow some weak disturbances to ripple this way. Clouds will increase and there might be a few showers from roughly Kansas City south and southeastwards. The better chances are southeast of the metro, but perhaps we get something fleeting and light locally. Don’t expect much at all.

Then tomorrow night into Wednesday pre-daybreak, a stronger front will come in. There may be some storms with this front developing in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Hopefully something there holds together long enough to affect us here in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. That appears to be our best chance of the week really.

The air will get progressively cooler starting on Wednesday. Long-term trends are pretty chilly too, especially for a few days next week:

The trends though are pretty dry. Notice after whatever happens tomorrow night:

We average about 0.8-plus inch of rain per week. The above chart shows less than that over the next two weeks.

GFS has something maybe on the 22nd, but that’s out there in fantasy land at this point.

So between the drought, the oncoming winds, and the lack of decent rains, I’m sort of not thrilled about a great fall color season. There will always be the maples that are spectacular, but it appears this year may not be as photogenic as others in the past.

Mary Jo Seever with today’s feature photo and she writes:

“A sad thing to see. We drove over thru the Lewis and Clark State Park what we all call Sugar Lake is almost completely dry. Hard to believe that is where I learned to water-ski. Bean Lake looks just as bad.”

Joe