By Gary McManus, Oklahoma Climatological Survey:
According to this morning’s release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, 67% of the state is now drought free (no D1-D4) and 49% of the state is without even the D0-Abormally Dry monicker. That state has not been in that good of shape since June 5, 2012.
But there are still differences between that time, because all of the momentum at that time back in 2012 was towards developing drought. The current situation is completely the opposite, with drought on the run across the entire state. So even though only 11% of the state was in D2-D3 (Severe-Extreme) drought 14 months ago, our current percentage of 23% has a different connotation.
Last year at this time, some two months later than the June 5 map, the state was 100% covered in drought, including 39% in the D4- Exceptional category.
We have the rains from the last month or so from our accelerated loss of drought. We started with a nice February through mid-June period (except for the tornadoes and large hail and flooding), survived a dry mid-June through mid-July that saw drought on the rise once again, and found salvation in uncharacteristically wet mid-July through mid-August conditions. We’ve covered the earlier periods a lot, but here’s a look at what we’ve seen since July 9, the day the summer rains returned.
Here are the climate division statistics with historical rankings back to 1921 for each division and also the statewide marks.
The climate division statistics show that on a larger scale basis, different areas of the state have been from 2-7 inches above normal. The departure map from above shows that there are localized areas from 8-12 inches above normal since July 9.
In fact, it has rained somewhere in the state every single day since July 13, and only a lack of rain anywhere on July 12 stopped that streak from going back to July 9. But it’s not just the rain that has helped the state with the drought. An important by-product of summer-time rains has also given it’s aid to the drought blasting … the cooler than normal weather. According to statistics from the Oklahoma Mesonet, the statewide average for August thus far was 80.9 degrees, 1 degree below normal.
However, the important statistic lies within that average, which takes the average of the maximum and minimum temperatures. The statewide average high temperature has been 3 degrees below normal and the normal low was a degree ABOVE normal. So we’ve been missing on those 100s for most of the month. Compare that to last year’s hellish first couple of weeks of August.
Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Mean
Aug. 1-14, 2012 101.2 71.4 86.3
Aug. 1-14, 2013 91.2 70.6 80.9
So a 10-degree difference in the average high temperatures.
The good news if the rain is not over yet, because there is still drought to be smashed out there. Maybe another half-inch to an inch across western Oklahoma.
The hope is, of course, that more rain will fall across southwestern Oklahoma, the hardest hit area of the state currently.