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Less than half of Oklahoma in drought

by Bryan Painter Modified: June 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm •  Published: June 21, 2013

On Friday, the summer solstice officially marks the start of the season.

And Thursday’s U.S. Drought Monitor report shows Oklahoma will enter summer with less than half the state in drought. The report has 42.09 percent of Oklahoma in moderate to exceptional drought as of conditions monitored Tuesday. That is compared to 50.87 percent in last week’s report.

Some of those areas still in drought have received varying amounts of rain since Tuesday.

But in Oklahoma, summer could be hot and dry, relatively mild and wet, or some other combination. Evidence of that is found in a look at recent summers, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

“Oklahomans know the typical Oklahoma summer is hot and dry,” McManus said, “but we’ve seen almost every example in the past five years. So we should not be writing the epitaph for this summer just yet.

“If the high-pressure system that normally brings us our unrelenting heat shifts to the east or west, the story of this summer can be dramatically different. But for folks out west, where it’s very dry, that story needs to start changing sooner rather than later.”

At the start of summer a year ago, 33.2 percent of Oklahoma was in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. However, that changed as the summer progressed, McManus said, with the entire state in drought by summer’s end.

In the summer of 2008, the statewide daily temperature was about average at 79.5 degrees, and it was the 17th wettest on records dating to 1895. But the summer of 2011 in Oklahoma was the warmest at 86.9 degrees and the third driest.

“Obviously, the last two summers were dominated by drought and heat, with those two factors feeding each other,” McManus said. “But even the last two summers had differing circumstances. The summer of 2011 fed off of long-term drought, at least in the western half of the state.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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