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Rains alleviate drought conditions in Oklahoma

Up until this week, the Oklahoma City area officially had been in a drought since last July. Recent spring rains helped alleviate parched conditions in central Oklahoma, though much of the state remains in a moderate to severe drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor reports.
by Bryan Painter and William Crum Modified: April 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm •  Published: April 26, 2013

Drought conditions ended this week across the Oklahoma City metropolitan area for the first time since early July 2012.

“Things have improved,” said Marsha Slaughter, Oklahoma City's utilities director. “Spring rains have been beneficial. We feel much better than we did three months ago.”

Reservoirs are about 55 percent full, a number Slaughter said compares favorably to the same time last year. Reservoirs in eastern Oklahoma and the metro area are full or close to it.

However, Canton Lake is only about 18 percent full. The city drew water from Canton, on the North Canadian River in northwest Oklahoma, to replenish Lake Hefner.

State remains dry

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows moderate to extreme drought persisting in a wide arc from far southeastern Oklahoma across the western half of the state and back toward the northeast.

Statewide, drought conditions prevailed across 72 percent of Oklahoma, down from 81.9 percent reported the week before. Pockets of exceptional drought still show up in far southwestern Oklahoma and the Panhandle.

“We have come a long way since January, mostly from eastern into central Oklahoma,” said Gary McManus, associate state climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

A lot of those areas have had 10 to 15 inches of rain since Feb. 1, but areas of south-central, west-central and northwestern Oklahoma have had less than 5 inches, he said. Cimarron County in the Panhandle has had less than an inch.

“So they have a lot further to go,” McManus said.

As the weather warms up, Oklahoma needs regular rainfall to keep up with demand from plants and evaporation, he said. Areas still way behind need above-normal rainfall to catch up before dry summer months arrive.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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