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Kansas City Area Ground Water

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Topography and Drainage

The land surface consists of rolling uplands occupying the divide between Kansas and Missouri Rivers, and a relatively large area occupied by the stream valleys (Pls. 1 and 2A). The area covered by the valleys of the two rivers and their principal tributaries includes a considerable part of Wyandotte County. The flood plain of the Missouri River, which adjoins the county ranges from 2 to more than 3 miles in width, and that of Kansas River averages slightly more than 1 mile, being somewhat narrower in Wyandotte County than in many areas to the west. High bluffs rise above the flood plains of both rivers.

Plate 2--A, Kansas River Valley looking east from a point about 1 mile west of Muncie on Highway K-32. B, Well 138 in the Kansas Valley, which is used as a drainage well.

Two black and white photos; view of Kansas River from bluff above train tracks; well in concrete box below ground in fallow field.

Culture and Resources

The following statements are based in part on data furnished by the Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City, Kansas, and in part on the 1940 census by the U. S. Bureau of the Census.

Kansas City, Kansas, is situated in Wyandotte County and has an area of 21 square miles. In 1940 Wyandotte County had a population of 154,071, of which 121,458 were in Kansas City. The population of Kansas City has increased considerably since 1940 as a result of the construction of several large war plants in the area and the enlargement and conversion of existing industries for war purposes.

The numerous industries in Kansas City, Kansas, include meat packing, flour milling, grain storage, walnut lumber milling, dairying, soap manufacturing, petroleum refining and distribution, fibre box and bag manufacturing, and steel fabricating. In 1940 there were 270 industrial plants in the city.

The Kansas City area is served by 12 railroad trunk lines, 3 air lines, and 53 motor-truck lines. It is the center of a network of excellent highways, including U. S. Highways 24, 40, 50, 69, 73, and 169 and Kansas Highways 5, 10, 32, 58, and 132.

Improvement of the Missouri River channel between St. Louis and Kansas City has linked this city with the inland waterways system which serves many ports including those of the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Completion of work now under way will provide navigable water as far north as Omaha, Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa.


The Kansas City, Kansas, area is in a region well supplied with rainfall, especially during the growing season. In common with parts of the country far removed from large bodies of water, it is subject to hot periods during the summer season and to severe drops in temperature during the winter. During the summer hot spells temperatures may reach 100° to 105° F. for several days in succession and at night the temperature may not drop much below 70° to 75°. Cold waves occasionally sweep in from the plains to the northwest, and, if the ground is covered with snow, cold weather may persist for several weeks, although temperatures below zero rarely persist as long as three days.

According to the records of the U. S. Weather Bureau's station at Kansas City, Missouri, the greatest annual precipitation on record in this area was 50.25 inches in 1898. The normal precipitation is 36.19 inches (Fig. 2). The greatest precipitation is during the summer months and the least precipitation is during December, January, and February (Fig. 3).

Figure 2--Annual precipitation and cumulative departure from normal precipitation at Kansas City, Missouri.

Above average precipitation in several years from 1902 to 1932; dry years for much of the 1930s.

Figure 3--Monthly distribution of precipitation at Kansas City, Missouri.

Wettest months are May and June (almost 5 inches); driest are December, January, and February (just above 1 inch).

The mean annual temperature in this area is 54.4° F., but the highest temperature recorded was 108° F., and the lowest was -22° F. The average date of the last killing frost in the spring is April 9, but killing frosts have occurred as late as May 25. The first killing frost in the fall has occurred as early as September 30, but its average date is October 28. The average length of the growing season is 202 days.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology
Placed on web Oct. 4, 2016; originally published February 1948.
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