Oklahoma's drought conditions prompt governor to declare emergency

Prolonged drought forces governor to declare state of emergency for all of Oklahoma's 77 counties. Most counties are under a burn ban as fire dangers increase.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: July 30, 2012

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency Monday as dry conditions combined with triple-digit temperatures bake Oklahoma with no end in sight.

The hot, arid conditions have increased fire danger across the state. Temperatures are expected to continue to reach at least 100 degrees in the Oklahoma City metro area for the next several days.

The governor's declaration covers all 77 counties, which are suffering from extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

“Extreme heat and dry conditions continue to affect the entire state,” Fallin said. “My administration will be ready to help provide whatever aid and assistance it can as Oklahoma communities work to cope with this drought.”

Because of the drought, 49 counties have declared countywide burn bans.

Oklahoma City on Monday reached a high of at least 90 degrees for 39 straight days, putting the streak, which started June 22, at 10th all-time, according to weather records that date to 1890. The highest count is 71 consecutive days, both in 1980 and 2011.

By 9:30 p.m. Monday, Emergency Medical Services Authority paramedics had responded to 99 heat-related emergencies with 63 patients taken to local hospitals since July 9 in the Oklahoma City metro area, said Lara O'Leary, EMSA spokesman.

The record high minimum temperature for Tulsa was likely set Monday morning. The low temperature in Tulsa only dropped to 88 degrees at 6:41 a.m., according to the National Weather Service's Tulsa forecast office. The existing record for a high minimum temperature was 87 degrees set July 16, 1980, and Aug. 2, 2011.

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