The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

August 29, 2013

Drought creeping back

Dry conditions worsened across parts of northwest Oklahoma, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.

All of Garfield and Grant counties, as well as most of Alfalfa County, were listed as drought free last week. Now, all of Grant, most of Alfalfa and the northern part of Garfield County are listed as abnormally dry, the lowest level of drought severity recorded by U.S. Drought Monitor. The remaining two-thirds of Garfield County still is drought free.

The reason is simple: No rain.

According to Oklahoma Mesonet, a system of weather-recording stations across the state, the last measurable rain in the area came Aug. 15-17.

The Breckinridge Mesonet site has recorded 2.99 inches of rain this month, but none since .01 of an inch was recorded Aug. 16. The Lahoma site has received 3.63 inches of rain in August, but none since .12 of an inch was recorded Aug. 17.

The Medford Mesonet site has recorded 5.34 inches of rain in August, but none since .51 of an inch was recorded Aug. 15. The Cherokee site has recorded 4.84 inches this month, but none since Aug. 16, when .01 of an inch was received.

That followed a wet June and July, which helped push the three-year drought back.

Farther west in Oklahoma, conditions improved, despite a lack of rain for more than two weeks.

Woodward County is listed in moderate drought. Last week, roughly the western third of the county was listed in severe drought, the third-worst category. Despite the improvement, the Woodward Mesonet site has recorded only .01 of an inch of rain since Aug. 13.

U.S. Drought Monitor shows about one-half of 1 percent of the state in exceptional drought, and just less than 10 percent in extreme drought — the two worst categories. The percentages are unchanged from last week and are reported in far southwestern Oklahoma and across the Panhandle.

The report shows moderate drought conditions in 38 percent of the state, compared with nearly 33 percent a week ago. Abnormally dry conditions are found in 60 percent of Oklahoma — up from 46 percent last week.

Nearly 40 percent of the state is without drought, down from 54 percent last week.

Nationwide, drought conditions worsened. For the first time since early April, more than half of the country is in some stage of drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor. That includes much of the West, where the hot, dry weather has fueled wildfires.

Drought conditions surged in the past week in corn-producing states, up to 45 percent of the region from 25 percent the week before, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Soybeans in drought also increased sharply in the last week to 38 percent from 16 percent, he said.

Lack of rain has caused drought conditions to expand in most of Wisconsin and Minnesota, along with eastern Illinois, western Indiana and northern Michigan, and parts of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, according to the drought report.

Rain eased drought in portions of northern Nebraska, though much of the western half of the state remains in extreme drought. The report also shows that abnormally dry conditions, one stage below drought, expanded in eastern Iowa and South Dakota.

All of those states grow either corn or soybeans, or both.

The drought monitor showed improvement in western and central Kansas, the Panhandle of Texas, south-central Arkansas and western and southern South Dakota.

Associate Editor Kevin Hassler and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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