76 Oklahoma counties get federal disaster designation for persistent drought

Drought has been persistent and severe across much of Oklahoma since late fall 2010.
FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS Published: January 9, 2013
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Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey said that other than a six-month “wet stretch” from October 2011 to March 2012 in portions of the state, drought has been persistent and severe across much of Oklahoma since late fall 2010. Oklahoma has missed out on the key parts of the rainy season, from May through mid-June, for two straight years.

“That has allowed the drought to flourish and explode in the summer,” he said. “If drought is in place or intensifying as summer begins, extreme heat is usually the result, which helps feed the drought conditions.

“The 2010-11 drought episode was generally a Southern Plains disaster while the 2012 episode was a Northern Plains problem. Unfortunately, Oklahoma has been at the center-point between two episodes and been fully impacted by both.”

In addition to the drought, 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 degrees, 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average, and 1 degree above 1998, the previous warmest year in the contiguous U.S.

In 2012, Oklahoma had a statewide average temperature of 63 degrees. That breaks the previous record of 62.8 degrees from 1954, making it Oklahoma's warmest year on records that began in 1895.