The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 1, 2013

Rain eases drought in Garfield County, much of Oklahoma

Staff and wire reports
Enid News and Eagle

— Recent rainfalls have eased drought conditions throughout much of Oklahoma — including Garfield County — but other parts of northwest Oklahoma still are under drought conditions.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor numbers released Thursday show nearly 53 percent of the state is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions. Last week, that number was 75 percent.

The National Weather Service says parts of Oklahoma experienced record rainfall in the past week. Oklahoma City set a new daily record after receiving 3.53 inches of rain Monday. Lawton recorded 5.58 inches of rain during a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday, while a Mesonet site in Walters recorded 3.36 inches of rain in one hour.

U.S. Drought Monitor says western Oklahoma and the Panhandle still are experiencing extreme drought. Some parts of the Panhandle remain in exceptional drought, the worst category

No drought conditions were reported in about half of the state, including central Oklahoma. U.S. Drought Monitor shows about half of Garfield County is out of drought, while the rest of the county is in two levels of drought: abnormally dry and moderate drought.

Oklahoma Mesonet data show this July was one the wettest ones on record at the weather stations in Lahoma and Breckinridge.

The Lahoma station recorded 7.45 inches of rainfall last month. The year before it recorded 0.39 inches of rainfall in July. The Breckinridge station recorded 6.86 inches of rainfall last month. For the same month last year, that number dwindled to 0.13 inches of recorded rainfall.

Data from the two stations date back to 1994.

According to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, between June 2 and July 31 north central Oklahoma, which includes Garfield County, received an average of 5.8 inches of total rainfall, a nearly 3 inches more than normal.

Last month was the fourth-wettest month on record when compared with data going back to 1921.

Gary McManus, associate state climatologist for Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said the counties still under drought conditions need another month of rain to get out of the drought.

“It’s a long process. Drought is a long process and so is getting out of it,” he said. “There is not a definite number of how much rain it would take. It’s really a case-by-case basis.”

McManus said several more storms with 2 to 3 inches of rainfall in August, along with lower temperatures, could help some of the hardest hit areas of the state.

“We’re out of the worst of it, and if we can continue to keep getting rainfall in August we can get out of it,” McManus said, noting the conditions worsen as you move west.

“They still have a ways to go in other parts,” he said. “It seems to be feast or famine in some areas.”

The wettest July on record dates back to 1950, with a statewide average of 9.26 inches. The coolest July on record was 1906, with an average temperature of 75.9 degrees.

The statewide average temperature last month was 79.6 degrees, 2 degrees below normal and the 28th coolest July on record. The highest temperature recorded during the month was 107 degrees at Alva, Buffalo and Freedom on July 9, and again at Grandfield on July 11, according to Oklahoma Climatological Survey data. The lowest temperature reported was 49 degrees at Seiling on July 2.

“The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report reflects the abundant July rainfall, especially across the eastern two-thirds of the state. Only 1.4 percent of the state is labeled within exceptional drought. That is a reduction from 8.7 percent at the end of June,” McManus said.

Staff Writer Cass Rains contributed to this report.