Gary McManus: Memorial Day Weekend Rains Help with Drought--But Not EnoughThu, 29 May 2014 14:13:13 CDT
Memorial Day weekend rains improved drought conditions in some parts of the state, but they were simply insufficient to make a significant dent in the ongoing drought in western and northwestern Oklahoma.
Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus said 10-day rain totals show Jackson County up through Blaine County had the most widespread heavy rains, but the northeast part of the state was pretty lucky as well. Newport and Burneyville largely missed out with only 0.07 and 0.10 inches, respectively, as did Medford with 0.35 inches. Although other areas got what appears to be a good amount of rain, it simply was not enough to offset the long-term drought conditions. Altus received 3.59 inches, Mangum got 4.24 inches and Hobart had the most with 4.79 inches. In the northeast, Porter received 4.33 inches.
McManus said the eight-day rain event did make one of the driest Mays on record suddenly become one of the stateís 30 driest Mays on record. He said it is important to remember the long-term nature of the drought as well. Since the beginning of the year, this latest rain matters, but it's simply not enough to erase those huge deficits. Southwest Oklahoma looks better, at least, but still most of the northwest two-thirds of the state are showing year-to-date rainfall totals less than 20% to 60% of normal. Medford, for example, has had 1.8 inches for the year thus far. Thatís about 12.6 inches below normal.
The amount of the state actually in some drought intensity (D1-D4) dropped from 81 percent to 80 percent in the latest Drought Monitor. But the real improvements came in the upper-end intensities, with D3-D4 falling from 61.2 percent to 55 percent and D4 from 34.3 percent to 26.5 percent.
McManus said that while those are not huge changes, they are a start and Oklahoma still has two to three weeks more of its normal rainy season ahead. Forecasters are calling increased chances of rain next week a good possibility.
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