Northwest Oklahoma — and all of Oklahoma for that matter — has received some good news.
The state, as of late June, was declared drought free by U.S. Drought Monitor. Of course, the bad side of this is how Oklahoma became drought free. Much of the state was devastated by flooding, but there were benefits from all the rain, as well.
Businesses around Canton Lake, which was impacted severely by drought and a January 2013 water release to Oklahoma City that nearly drained the lake, have enjoyed the benefits of the recent rain.
Crappie King Cabins near Canton Lake are seeing occupancy near 100%, after barely reaching 25% during the drought.
“It’s helped our business. We’re at least 85% full, and through the springtime we were at probably 100%,” said owner Donnie Jinkens.
During the drought, Army Corps of Engineers said in May 2018, the equivalent of 1.16 billion gallons of water flowed into Canton Lake from its 7,601-square-mile drainage area. In May 2019, more than 25.8 billion gallons flowed into the lake.
Since Jan. 1, Oklahoma has received an average of about 27 inches of rain, which is almost 8 inches above normal and the fourth wettest six-month period in nearly a century, according to Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
U.S. Drought Monitor, an assessment of drought conditions across the nation, indicates Oklahoma was drought-free as of June 25.
A year earlier, more than 72% of the state was experiencing some degree of drought, including 28% of the state that was in severe drought and almost 12% in extreme drought.
Typically, though, for our part of the state, we’re entering the period where it’s usually the driest. One expert says we may buck that trend this year.
Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, a professor of meteorology at Texas A&M University and director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies, said an El Niño weather pattern brought on by the natural warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean brought wetter-than-normal conditions to the Southern Plains and other drought-stricken areas of the Southwestern U.S.
“We still have El Niño conditions in place,” Nielsen-Gammon said, increasing the likelihood of plentiful rainfall and below-average temperatures through September.
Much of the central U.S. is expected to remain wetter than normal throughout the summer, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.
We will have to wait and see what the next couple of months hold. But one thing is for sure. We shouldn’t take the abundance of moisture for granted. As quick as the drought went away, it could return.
Be mindful of that. We all need to remember that water is one of our most precious commodities and we shouldn’t squander it.