Unfortunately, it will be severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail that bring the much-needed rain. For the wheat crop, large hail will be the main concern with isolated damage possible in some fields.

Several more storm systems will track across the Plains next week. Eastern parts of Kansas and Oklahoma may benefit from at least one of these storms, while rainfall totals may only amount to about half an inch into southwestern Kansas through next week.

"A half an inch of rain alone is not going to save the crop," Mohler stated. "It would help, but it's not going to save it. They need more rain following it in May, and that just seems unlikely with a forecast for continued drier-than-normal conditions."

In northeastern Kansas, however, Mohler said there is more hope. "I feel confident that the rain over the next week and a half will help the crop in northeastern Kansas and that they will have a greater opportunity to get more rain into May."

"Central Kansas will be on the fence," he added. "It could go either way."

More on the drought and other impacts

According to the latest release from the U.S. Drought Monitor on April 7, 2011, a severe to extreme drought is affecting a large area from Louisiana and Arkansas to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

In addition to causing significant crop damage, the drought has also been contributing to an extreme risk of wildfires over the past couple of months, especially from western Texas into Oklahoma and Colorado.

Wildfires in western Texas over this past weekend reportedly scorched more than 230,000 acres and destroyed approximately 80 homes and buildings.

The threat for wildfires is likely to remain high across the region through the rest of the spring and summer with drier-than-normal conditions predicted.

The fire danger becomes especially high when storm systems kick up high winds across the area. Gusty wind events tend to be more common during the spring than summer.

Much of the rest of this week, areas from New Mexico into western Texas will remain at an elevated risk with gusty winds in the forecast.