Dust-filled skies in portions of northern Oklahoma held a powerfully bleak reminder Thursday that despite recent rains in some areas of the state, the drought is anything but over.
A couple of rain storms over the past 30 days in some areas of Oklahoma contributed to a significant drop in the portion of the state in extreme to exceptional drought, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday showed 67 percent of Oklahoma in extreme to exceptional drought, down from 81 percent last week and 95 percent three weeks ago.
However, 99 percent of the state is still in the severe to exceptional drought categories. The reason for that is obvious when looking at rainfall deficits between May 1 and Wednesday, McManus said. Statewide, the deficit for that period is 8.9 inches and ranks as the third-driest such time span since 1921.
For north central Oklahoma, the area which included the dust storms Thursday, it is the driest such time period since 1921. The Oklahoma Mesonet weather network shows much of north-central Oklahoma with precipitation more than 12 inches below normal.
Keith Kisling is a wheat producer near Burlington, along the Oklahoma-Kansas state line in Alfalfa County. There is a Mesonet site at Cherokee, about 15 miles south of Kisling's house. Through Thursday, that site has gone 35 consecutive days with less than a quarter-inch of rain on any one day.
Kisling said they received a few small showers that gave them enough to plant some of their wheat. But with a lack of rains since, a lack of subsoil moisture and unseasonably warm, windy days, the situation is tough.