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Serving: KS

It Was a Day of Dirt

It's been hotter and drier than the 1930s and in spite of best farming practices, we have the dirt to prove it

The snow gates on I-70 in western Kansas were closed this week, diverting traffic off the busy Interstate and into rural motels and cafes.

No, there's no time warp. It's not winter. And it wasn't snow that closed the highway.

 It was the blowing dirt coming off the farm fields of eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Part of it was the result of desperate farmers "dusting in" wheat in the hopes that the widespread rain would come this weekend. But most of it was the result of dead, dry vegetation and winds that stayed steady at 25 to 30 mph and gusted to 50 and 60 mph.

The blowing dirt filled the air, generating enough limited visibility to create a hazard for drivers, who were already hampered by strong winds.

I wasn't on I-70. But I was in southwestern Kansas where dirt in the air was pretty much the order of the day. With a forecast saying there was a 30% chance of rain on Thursday night, farmers were out there dusting in wheat in the hope that moisture was on the way.

DUSTING IN? OR DUSTING OUT? With winds at 30 mph, gusting to 50 mph on Thursday, there was a real danger that the wheat seed being put into the ground was being blown right back out again. Or picked up in the moving dirt and being deposited against the closest wind break, be it a fence row or a road ditch.

It wasn't.

In spite of the clouds that rolled in on Thursday and again on Friday, it didn't rain. We have another shot or two over the weekend. It hasn't stopped me from turning the hose on the silver maple seedling that I hope is going to survive to shade my grandchildren.

And, as much as I want to see Gov. Sam Brownback and Mayor Carl Brewer riding point on 40 head of trophy longhorns in the Kansas 150th birthday parade on Saturday, if it actually rains, that would be even better. Stay tuned. There will be pictures on this blog no matter how it turns out.

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