MARTHA — Matt Muller watched a storm system roll in Thursday afternoon, knowing he had a lot riding on it.
Muller, a farmer in southwestern Oklahoma, already has lost much of this year’s crop to drought. If it didn’t rain Thursday, Muller said he’d likely lose the rest, as well.
After several weeks of rain, deep drought conditions have swept back over much of southwestern Oklahoma, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday. Nearly 16 percent of the state, mostly in far western and southwestern Oklahoma, were listed in extreme or exceptional drought, the report’s two most severe conditions.
The area has been in drought for nearly four years. But several rounds of rain in June and July left Muller feeling more optimistic about his fortunes.
But the rain stopped at the beginning of August, and extreme heat and high winds returned, Muller said. Things deteriorated quickly after that.
“July was so great, and everything looked so beautiful, and we had so much hope,” he said.
Oklahoma state climatologist Gary McManus said heat and lack of rain have created difficult conditions across most of southwestern Oklahoma. Vegetation has started to die, and lakes that were already several feet down from the drought haven’t been recharged, he said.
The National Weather Service predicted a 60 percent chance of heavy rain Thursday night in Altus and Martha.