For all of the western two-thirds of Oklahoma the news is not good: Drought persists.

John Pike, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, said drought conditions throughout most of western Oklahoma are likely to remain into at least the early part of summer.

“We’re in a La Nina weather pattern, so this was expected to some extent,” Pike said. “But for the far northwestern portion of the state, this has led to what’s known as ‘exceptional drought,’ the most severe category of drought conditions.”

Like El Nino weather patterns, La Nina is related to changes in water temperature in the Pacific Ocean. The complex pattern affects global weather patterns, including decreased rain in some areas.

Pike said western Okla­homa is expected to have below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures as the region moves into spring and early summer. In fact, Will Moseley, a wildlife and fisheries consultant for the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, said recent rains are not going to move the region out of drought.

“Most of the rainfall was restricted to areas east of Interstate 35, so there was no relief for many areas in the west,” Moseley said. “The northwest section is experiencing historic drought conditions.”

The current drought really began last fall. A wet August eased conditions throughout western Ok­lahoma, but precipita­tion “sort of shut off” af­ter August, Moseley said.

“Unless you’re a wheat farmer, you may not have noticed the lack of precipitation,” Moseley said. “The cool season made it easier for people not to notice the conditions, but as spring and summer approach we’re going to see even more soil moisture depletion.”

The El Nino pattern is supposed to return sometime in the fall of this year, which could mean more moisture for Oklahoma, but Moseley said that will most likely be after the main part of the growing season, lessening the impact.

“I hate to say it, but the outlook isn’t good for western Oklahoma,” he said.

The Noble Research Institute keeps an updated drought information page at their website, noble.org, under the “Drought” tab.

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Horton writes for the Enid News & Eagle, enidnews@enidnews.com.

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