Al Gantz came to Marion in 1967 as the conservationist for Marion County Conservation District. He was rummaging through a desk drawer when he came upon a partial record of official rainfall in Marion, beginning in 1908.
This sparked his interest. He sent a request for the missing data to the state weather office in Topeka. They complied by sending a complete list of rainfall totals for Marion.
Gantz added to the data every year, and Betty Richmond, district manager, compiled it on a bar graph. After he retired in 1982, he continued to keep a record of yearly rainfall, and Richmond continued to add bars to the graph.
The 1908 to 1969 numbers record rainfall for the city of Marion. Randall Newsom was the official weather data collector for Marion when Gantz arrived.
After Marion Reservoir was completed in 1969, Gantz obtained rainfall amounts from the Corps of Engineers.
Through 2007, the average annual rainfall was 32.20 inches.
There have been nine years of high rainfall and 10 years of low rainfall in the past 101 years. As the graph reveals, there is no set pattern.
The wettest years, with rainfall 10 inches or more above average, were 1915, 1941, 1944, 1951, 1973, 1977, 1992, 1993, and 1995.
The driest years, with rainfall 10 inches or more below average, were 1914, 1933, 1936, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1966, 1980, and 1982.
“Changes in the weather seem to be the norm in Kansas,” Gantz said.
The data compiled by Gantz and Richmond is on file at Marion City Library.
Gantz, now 85, was the second conservationist in the history of the Marion County District. Kenneth Muse was the first, beginning in the 1940s. Gary Schuler took over when Gantz retired in 1967. Schuler retired about a year ago and was replaced by the current supervisory conservationist, Grover DePriest. Richmond has been with the district since 1962.