Last month the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared all but one county in Oklahoma a disaster area. And the water situation continues to deteriorate. May-January the state averaged 15.4 inches of rain, which makes it the third driest such period on record. The two that rank above are similar periods in 1910-11 (14.5 inches) and 1952-1953 (15.2 inches).
We did end January on a high note with 1-3 inches of rain across parts of the state. This did push our precipitation totals for the month to 0.2 inches above normal, making it the first month since April 2012 to finish with above normal precipitation. However, parts of the western Oklahoma weren’t so fortunate and still finished well below normal.
We ended the month with 100 percent of the state in a severe (D2) drought, and 92 percent of that in the extreme (D3) category, and 37 percent of that in the exceptional (D4) category. Many of eastern Oklahoma’s reservoirs saw some gains.
“Broken Bow Lake in McCurtain County rose to 77 percent of capacity, a nine percent rise in about a month’s time. Hugo Lake in Choctaw County rose from 37 percent to 61 percent. The lakes farther to the west still remain near those historic lows, however. The reservoir at Altus-Lugert remained at 16 percent of capacity, and nearby Tom Steed Lake hovered at 35 percent. Oklahoma City and Norman have both implemented mandatory water conservation guidelines to their water customers due to low lake levels.”- Mesonet
The outlook for Oklahoma’s rainy season, April-June, is not looking good. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is predicting above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for that time period. The drought looks to likely persist and possibly intensify from February- April, and with the outlook for the rainy season the longer term outlook isn’t good either. There is some good news for the short term, the CPC is predicting above normal rainfall from February 8th-14th.
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