Tropical Kansas

Leaving Denver this morning, low clouds and curtains of virga hung in the eastern sky. A few showers dampened the Interstate across the High Plains, giving way to steady rain just east of Oakley, Kansas. The precipitation intensified as we continued to the east, with periods of torrential rain, like the bands of a tropical storm; despite the deluge, no lightening, high winds or hail accompanied the downpours. This heavy rain persisted, with only brief interruptions, all the way to Junction City.

Over the past week, a dome of high pressure has settled over the Southeast and South-Central States. Along its rim, where the hot, humid air of the dome collides with cooler air of the Central Plains and Midwest, thunderstorms and heavy rain have developed, moving clockwise around its edge. Today's torrential rain along I-70 fell across the northwest section of that rim; once we left the collision zone (east of Junction City) and entered the hot, soupy air of the dome, we could see its northern curve in the distance, represented by storm clouds across northeastern Kansas and northern Missouri.

Though I have no forecasting credentials, I would expect significant flooding along the Smoky Hill River in the coming days. The entire stretch of today's downpour, some 230 miles in length, is drained by that River and its northern tributaries.