The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

April 20, 2014

Drought to continue; may worsen

ENID, Okla. — Much of northwest Oklahoma remains in severe drought conditions, with the situation worse farther west. And, the long-range forecast calls for drought to continue, if not grow more severe.

Garfield, Grant, Kingfisher, Alfalfa and Woods counties are in severe drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor, as is most of Blaine County.

The eastern half of Major County also is in severe drought, the third-worst level measured by U.S. Drought Monitor, while the western part of the county is in extreme drought, as is a sliver of northwest Blaine County.

Half of Woodward County is listed in severe drought — the second-worst category — while the western half of the county is in exceptional drought, the worst category measured by U.S. Drought Monitor.

National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts the drought to persist or intensify for the western half of Oklahoma through at least July 31.

“The CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks call for equal chances of above, near or below-median precipitation across the central and southern Great Plains during (May-July),” according to the CPC website. “However, the upper-level pattern featuring a trough upstream during the remainder of April and possibly into the beginning of May is favorable for at least seasonal rainfall amounts.”

In addition, CPC expects a good chance of above-normal temperatures May-July, “which could intensify drought conditions if rainfall remains at or below-normal.”

Drought conditions are affecting the condition of area crops.

A report from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service shows only 14 percent of Oklahoma’s wheat crop in good condition in a report released last week. Another 32 percent was listed in fair condition, while the remaining 54 percent was listed in poor or very poor condition.

The area’s wheat crop has lost a “considerable amount of yield potential” because of the lack of rain, said Jeff Bedwell, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Major County.

The canola crop also is suffering from the drought. According to NASS, only 7 percent of the state’s crop was in good condition, while 24 percent was in fair shape. The other 69 percent was listed in poor or very poor condition, according to NASS.

According to Oklahoma Climatological Survey, this year is the fifth-driest in north central Oklahoma — which includes Garfield County — since 1921. The area has received an average of 1.43 inches of rain this year, more than 5 inches below normal.

The Mesonet weather-recording station at Breckinridge has reported 1.54 inches of precipitation this year. The Mesonet site at Lahoma has reported just .92 inches for the year.

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