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Despite recent rains, drought remains in much of Oklahoma

The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows 53.45 percent of the state still is in moderate to exceptional drought.
by Bryan Painter Modified: June 6, 2013 at 10:09 pm •  Published: June 7, 2013

Canadian County Agriculture Extension agent Brad Tipton, based in El Reno, can verify that. In August, most of his county was in exceptional drought and the southwestern half of Canadian County was in that worst category at the end of September. As recently as mid-February, Canadian County was in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report.

Tipton said they didn't start getting any rain to speak of until about late February.

Gregory said he had become accustomed to no water in ponds, so when he started seeing full ponds, they really stood out. He said there are areas where rain has fallen and runoff has filled ponds.

“However most areas of southwest Oklahoma, say along the Red River and the counties nearer the Texas Panhandle, in general have received little rain and virtually no runoff to fill ponds,” he said.

Gregory said the wheat harvest is underway in some areas. This crop has battled challenges including not only drought, but freezes and hail in some areas of the state.

He said there has been little surface moisture to get summer crops planted.

Even in areas that have received rains, Gregory said pasture conditions continue to suffer the effects of last summer.

Goodwell, in the Panhandle, went into Thursday having gone 103 consecutive days with less than a quarter inch of rain on any one day. That Mesonet site had recorded 0.43 inches in the last 30 days.

And in western Oklahoma, the Mesonet station at Cheyenne had received 0.77 inches in that 30-day span.

Gregory said if the drought in southwestern Oklahoma continues, this summer will mark the third dry summer in a row, and two of the last three winters have been dry. He added that “subtle drought may have started as early as 2007.”

Now Gregory and Tipton wonder what is ahead.

As Tipton said, “Who knows what the summer holds?”

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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