Drought Intensifying Across West Central OklahomaThu, 04 Sep 2014 17:32:56 CDT
Drought is intensifying across west central Oklahoma due to above average temperatures and lack of moisture. The latest US Drought Monitor report shows the expansion of extreme drought (D3) and severe drought (D2) while rainfall this week helped to slightly improve extreme drought (D3) and severe drought (D2) in the panhandle. There is also some relief across the far northwest.
The US Drought Mitigation Center reports over 80 percent of the state is rated abnormally dry to exceptional drought. That's worse than a year ago when 73.8 percent received a drought rating. You can see the latest Drought Monitor map above that shows 2.25 percent of the state is in exceptional drought (D4), 14.26 is in extreme drought (D3), 29.64 is in severe drought (D2), 24.25 percent is in moderate drought (D1) and 10.1 is abnormally dry. That leaves 19.5 percent of the state without a drought rating.
In the weekly Oklahoma Mesonet Ticker, State Climatologist Gary McManus said over the last three weeks, the statewide average high was 95 degrees which was 2.8 degrees above normal and moisture has been limited across much of the state. In the west central region less than one-half inch of rain has fallen, making August 1 - September 4 the third driest period since 1921. The impact of drought is showing up with soil moisture deteriorating, low lake levels and some counties implementing burn bans.
McManus said this combination of loss of moisture and warmer temperatures are the basic ingredients for flash drought intensification. At this point it is hard to determine if this would really be considered a flash drought situation that is caused by the sudden stop of appreciable moisture coupled with above normal temperatures creating a relatively sudden increase in short-term drought impacts or if this is just "re-intensification" as drought is already in place over most of the state.
McManus said looking at the forecast there looks to be more chances for rain with a front approaching the state on Friday that is likely to stall out in the area bringing changes for showers and storms. He said Oklahoma also has a chance of receiving moisture from Tropical Storm Dolly in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Norbert in the Pacific. Both could bring moisture to the state, especially in the Panhandle and western Oklahoma regions.
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