Precipitation across Kansas was almost twice the normal amount in December helping to decrease drought conditions in the state.

With precipitation across Kansas totaling 1.69 inches, Kansas climatologist Mary Knapp said the preliminary statewide average precipitation total for December was 192 percent of the normal. Last month’s precipitation, coupled with the forecast for 2012, has farmers eager to start planting.

Most of the state remains abnormally dry, but the latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a decrease in the area of all drought categories in Kansas. still, 57 percent of the state was rated abnormally dry to exceptional drought.

Knapp said southeast Kansas was the wettest overall, with an average of 2.85 inches or 179 percent of normal, but southwest had the greatest departure from normal, with an average of 1.58 inches or 345 percent of normal. Despite having the 5th wettest December since 1895, southwest Kansas ended the year as the 4th driest on record. Northwest Kansas was the driest in December, with an average of 0.39 inches, or 81 percent of normal.

Knapp says La Niña is expected to weaken and it’s possible for El Niño conditions to return which would bring wetter-than-normal conditions to the Central Plains this summer.