You don’t have to tell Debbie and Sam Edmunds that there has been a lot of rain this year.
The camp hosts at Crow’s Creek Campground off Missouri Route E at Smithville Lake have witnessed it firsthand.
“The rains weren’t just steady rains,” Debbie Edmunds said. “You would run 10 feet, and by the time you were done at 10 feet, even your underwear was wet. That’s how heavy it rained.”
What surprises them, however, is that the Clay County campground is near the hardest-working rain gauge in the Kansas City area.
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That gauge, according to global positioning data, is near Northeast 160th Street and North Hardesty Road, and it recorded just shy of 39 inches of rain as of Aug. 12.
That’s more than an inch above the amount collected by the gauge that came in second.
“This is probably the most rain we’ve been in on a consistent basis,” Sam Edmunds said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this much rain in Missouri.”
To find the hardest-working rain gauge, The Kansas City Star analyzed rain totals from 220 gauges in the 10-county Kansas City area from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center and Stormwatch.com.
The Star ranked the data and then mapped the information. And while the data show that the Smithville Lake area has seen the most rainfall so far this year, other parts of the metro area saw significant amounts too.
A rain gauge in the New Mark subdivision in Kansas City, North, came in second with 37.73 inches, and a gauge near Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee was third with 37.63 inches of rain.
A few other locations in Johnson County have seen 35 inches or more of rainfall. But it’s the Northland, in general, that tended to see the most. Ultimately, however, it all depended upon where you live.
That’s why Overland Park and Johnson County offer Stormwatch.com, an early warning system for flash flooding that relies on remote weather stations throughout the Kansas City area.
“We know that rainfall could be very localized, and we need a relatively dense network (of gauges) to be able to know where flash flooding may occur,” said Dan Hurley, an engineering systems specialist with Overland Park.
The site also includes data collected by gauges owned and operated by Wyandotte County and Kansas City.
“It’s a good way to know how much rain is falling in your yard or near your yard,” Hurley said. “We have a pretty dense network, so a lot of people can find a gauge close to their house.”
So how much rain has Kansas City seen? As of Thursday, 31.9 inches of rain had fallen at Kansas City International Airport. That’s just shy of 6 inches above normal.
“We are well above where we were last year too,” said Chris Bowman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Mo. At this time last year, Kansas City had 23.3 inches of rain.
“We had a wet spring, and we continued through with a wet June and a wet July,” he said. “It really hasn’t been until August that we started to dry out.”
This year’s rainfall is a big change from the drought of 2012, Bowman said.
At this time in 2012, virtually all of Kansas and Missouri experienced severe to exceptional drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This year, none of Missouri is in a drought. And only several counties in northwestern Kansas are experiencing abnormally dry conditions.
Rural Clay County resident Lewis Linville, who was out walking his standard poodle Charlie this week on the Cabin Fever Trail at Smithville Lake, remembers the drought. His house on Mount Olivet Road has three ponds, and they totally dried out.
“It wiped out all of my fish,” he said.
But that’s not a problem this year.
“For the first time I can remember in 10 years, the ponds were full and overflowing,” Linville said. “It’s kind of nice, but it means a lot more mowing than I’ve been used to.”
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