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Thunderstorm Brings Little Rain, Lightning Fire

Thunderstorm Brings Little Rain, Lightning Fire

Hopes for moisture give way to battling blaze in field of growing wheat.

When thunderstorms popped up on May 30, Roger Brining was hopeful it would mean rain for his parched fields in Barton County.

The moisture was welcome even though Brining had just begun harvesting dryland wheat.

"The need for rain for everything else is welcome even if it does delay harvest. It's too late for the wheat anyway," he said.

What he got was very little rain – along with a lightning strike that set a wheat field on fire and burned off 10 acres of ripe wheat.

Thunderstorm Brings Little Rain, Lightning Fire

"I'm lucky it wasn't worse," he said. "You can see in the way that it burned that the wind pushed it in one direction and then there must have been a wind shift because it headed off the other way. We're just lucky we got it out before it burned the whole field off."

As it stands, Brining figures he lost about $3,000 worth of wheat.

He also feels lucky that he got very little of the hail that hit hard in pockets across Kansas on Wednesday afternoon and Wednsday night.

"We did have a storm about a week before that where we got some golfball size hail and hardly a drop of rain," he said. "I was looking at hail stones laying on the dry driveway."

Much of Kansas east of Highway 83 got rain on Wednesday night, some areas as much as two or three inches along with hail and high winds that knocked down power lines and left roads and yards littered with tree limbs.

West of Highway 83, very little rain fell. In northern Kansas, where drought is becoming an increasing problem, rainfall was about a quarter of an inch – about a day's supply to fast-growing fall row crops.

"Drought is beginning to be a really serious issue. People are started to get really worried," said Amy Hadachek, whose husband, Larry, farms near Belleville.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, released May 29, shows most of Kansas in abnormally dry conditions, with pockets of moderate and severe drought.

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