The percentage of Oklahoma categorized as being in an exceptional drought went up in the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.
But also on Thursday, residents in some areas of the state received varying amounts of rain and hoped for more. By midday, Putnam in western Oklahoma had received 1.5 inches of rain since midnight, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network.
The new U.S. Drought Monitor report showed 48 percent of Oklahoma was in an exceptional drought, the worst category.
That was up from 39 percent last week. However, rain is in the forecast through the weekend in areas of the state.
Almost all of Oklahoma is experiencing severe to exceptional drought.
Mark Hodges, executive director of Plains Grains Inc./Oklahoma Genetics Inc., which tests wheat for quality, said rain this week could be very important for the crop.
“The livestock guys don't have any forage for their cattle,” he said, “and of course the grass that is there is brown with low nutritive value. A lot of areas have burned. There's not a lot of hay left, like the situation we were in last year. So if we can get some early moisture, get wheat in the ground and get it up, it will provide some relief for those livestock producers as well as allowing wheat producers to at least get a start on this crop.”
Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said in the latest report that there was some improvement in the southeast, but also intensification of the drought in portions of north central and northeast Oklahoma. Some areas in the southeast received 3 to 4 inches of rain, and that was the area that saw the improvements, improving from extreme drought to severe in the report.
Some portions remained in the categories they've been in lately whether that was severe, extreme or exceptional.
The northern areas that missed appreciable moisture from yet another storm system were degraded to exceptional drought, McManus said.