Drought returns to Oklahoma

Drought has returned to Oklahoma, and the western two-thirds of the state are expected to experience drought by the end of August, according a report from Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS).

According to data provided by Oklahoma Mesonet and National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) monthly drought outlook, drought returned to Oklahoma in July for the first time since March.

An OCS press release noted dry, hot and windy conditions in June and July as accelerating the drought, despite July being cooler than the normal average.

According to preliminary data from Oklahoma Mesonet, statewide average rainfall total was 1.63 inches in July, 1.25 inches below normal, making it the 29th driest July since records began in 1895.

While rainfall totals of 3-5 inches soaked southeastern Oklahoma, most of central and western Oklahoma suffered "significant deficits" in rainfall in July, according to the OCS press release. Forty-five of the Mesonet’s 120 stations recorded less than an inch of rain for the month, while 87 received less than 2 inches.

Locally, the Breckinridge Mesonet site recorded 2.47 inches of rain in July, but 2.14 inches of that fell on July 2-3. The Lahoma site recorded just .29 of an inch, all of it July 2-3.

Other Northwest Oklahoma Mesonet sites and rainfall totals were: Medford, .26 of an inch; Fairview, .48; Cherokee, 1.08 inches, with 1.03 falling July 6; Kingfisher, .61; Watonga, .36; Alva, .84; and Woodward, .46.

Chickasha had the lowest total at .03 of an inch, while Oklahoma City recorded .06 of an inch, tied for its fourth driest July on record, according to Mesonet data. By the end of July, parts of north central Oklahoma had gone 45 days without at least a quarter-inch of rainfall, according to OCS. That streak extended to 38 days across central and southwestern Oklahoma.

Nearly 6% of the state was in moderate drought according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, released Thursday, and another 13% was considered “abnormally dry,” a drought precursor, according to OCS.

"Those designations cover most of the southwestern quarter of the state, with another dollop centered over Ellis County in the northwest," according to the OCS press release. "Drought development is considered likely across the western two-thirds of the state through the end of August according to the Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) monthly drought outlook."

That drought development would be in addition to those areas that saw drought advance by the end of July. CPC’s temperature and precipitation outlooks for August indicate increased odds of above normal temperatures across the southwestern one-third of the state, and above normal precipitation over far northeastern Oklahoma.

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