By Gary McManus, state climatologist, Oklahoma Climatological Survey:
“Where’s Ken Burns when you need him?
“Tales of woe from drought-plagued western Oklahoma, but where to start? Might as go with the more scenic story. As the cold front swept our 70s out from under our feet on Sunday, the northerly winds that came with it swept something else along with it our in the High Plains … a good old fashioned 1930s style dust storm. The folks at the Cimarron County Conservation District were kind enough to send us some pics of the towering wall of dirt as it bore down on Cimarron County from SE Colorado. Check out the pictures here and tell me those don’t belong in a Ken Burns documentary!
“From what I can tell searching around various websites, the picture from near La Junta, Colorado, (#6) appears to show the genesis of the event. The Cimarron County folks tell me that the storm swept into the Boise City area around 4 p.m. That fits pretty well from what we can see from the meteogram at Boise City on the 12th. Temperatures drop from the 60s into the 50s in about an hour as winds switch from the west-southwest to northerly and gust to over 50 mph …
“right around 4 p.m.
“La Junta, Colorado, would be located right around that area of Exceptional Drought (D4) there in SE portions of the state, so not a shock you could get a nice duster started around there.
“As you can see, the last 90 days have actually turned out pretty darned horrible.
“The only saving grace, and this is a toughie, is that it has been cool for the most part as the moisture deficits have once again started to accumulate. And remember for out west, these are moisture deficits that have been going on for more than three years now.
“Relief? Well, we might be waiting awhile. The 7-day moisture forecast from WPC, as well as the 8-14 day CPC outlooks tell us we’re going to get a great big heaping bowl of warm, dry January. Just what the doctor DID NOT order.
“Remember, these are maps of probabilities, not amounts, so what you see here indicate increased odds of above normal temps and below normal precipitation across most of the western U.S., including Oklahoma. The dry slant to the moisture extends across most of the U.S., actually.”