Half of Oklahoma is in drought and half is considered “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.
Last week, 45 percent of the state was considered to be experiencing some form of drought. The latest report shows 50 percent is in drought and the other half is abnormally dry, including Oklahoma County.
Oklahoma went from 73.8 percent of the state considered abnormally dry or in some form of drought to 100 percent in one week, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
“So this is the epitome of a flash drought situation,” McManus said. “Even though abnormally dry is not an indication of drought, it's the precursor to drought and with the heat and cutoff of all precipitation, well, the direction the state has been heading is obvious.
“We did see that exceptional drought expand farther into Jackson County, where horrible conditions still exist.”
Most of the southwest corner of Oklahoma is considered to be in extreme or exceptional drought. Areas of the Panhandle have received some rain in recent days. But most of that area continues to battle exceptional drought.
Meanwhile, the combination of heat and scarce amounts of rain intensified the drought in several states.
In the Midwest, temperatures were as much as 10 degrees above normal and rainfall for many areas was sparse or nonexistent. La Crosse, Wis., for example, has received only 2.4 inches of rain between July 1 and Sept. 10 — the driest on record, said Anthony Artusa, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The city's previous record was 2.52 inches in 1948.
The weekly drought monitor — produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the NOAA, the USDA and about 350 drought observers — rates the level of drought on a five-classification scale: abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought and exceptional drought.
Drought worsened in portions of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Further south, conditions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas also declined. And more than three-quarters of the western United States remains in moderate drought or worse.
Contributing: The Associated Press