The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows more than 40 percent of Oklahoma, including the entire western third of the state, is now considered to be in an exceptional drought — the worst category.
Exceptional-to-extreme drought now covers 58 percent of the state, according to the report, which was released Thursday. That's up 14 percent from the previous week. Plus, extreme and severe drought will continue an eastward march as the heat withers vegetation and dissipates the remaining soil moisture, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
A wandering tropical system has given some areas of Oklahoma a brief interlude from the dry weather over the past couple of days. The U.S. Drought Monitor is based on conditions as of the Tuesday before the report is released.
In looking at the exceptional drought area, only four stations in the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network have received even a half-inch of rain in the past three days: Kenton with 1.71 inches, Camargo with 0.84 inches, Alva with 0.79 inches and Hinton with 0.66 inches.
Will Rogers World Airport received 2.91 inches of rain in a downburst Tuesday that limited the high temperature at 98 degrees in Oklahoma City that day.
“The trouble with the rains, however, is that the hefty amounts were very localized,” McManus said. “That is customary for summer storms that are working with little upper-air support. They form and sit still for the most part, dumping their rain in a hurry before dissipating. With luck, more storms form along the outflow boundaries that result, which is what we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
The temperature at the airport returned to triple digits Wednesday and Thursday. High temperatures at or above 100 degrees are in the forecast for Oklahoma City through at least next Wednesday.
Oklahoma City has reached triple-digit temperatures 24 times in 2011. The record for 100-degree temperatures in Oklahoma City is 50 days, set in 1980.
Going into Friday, the Oklahoma Mesonet has had a station reach at least 100 degrees on 57 days this year.
The trouble with the rains, however, is that the hefty amounts were very localized. That is customary for summer storms that are working with little upper-air support.”