The Woodward News

Local News

February 23, 2014

Drought reaches disaster status in Dewey County

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — DRY WEATHER COULD CONTINUE AS PART OF "DECADAL" PATTERN

Weather experts say the conditions causing the current drought could continue for a while.

Oklahoma Climatologist Gary McManus explained that weather patterns are a result of the natural changing or “oscillation” of ocean temperatures at the tip of South America.

Those changes usually follow a “decadal” pattern, that is, they last about 2 to 3 decades, McManus said. This is called Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO.

There are two different types of PDO, he said. One involves warm ocean temperatures, also known as El Niño and the other involves cooler ocean temperatures, also known as La Niña.

So for instance, during the drought here in the 1950s and the fairly dry pattern that followed until about 1975, the ocean down in South America was going through a cooler phase, McManus said. When that happens, it causes warmer and drier weather to dominate here, he said.  

“Then, from 1975 through about 1995 or 1998, we had that wonderful wet phase where we had more rain,” McManus said.

That means ocean temperatures in that 20 or so year span between 1975 to 1998  in South America were warmer. So that created, for the Western half of the US, cooler and wetter weather, he said. That is called El Niño.

So McManus believes sometime around 1995 to 1998, the PDO changed back, as it naturally does, to a La Niña cycle.

What’s that mean for us?

“It could mean we have another decade or so to go before the overall pattern changes,” he said.

That doesn’t mean that every single year will be a drought though, McManus said.

“There will be some rainy years; it just means when you look at it over time you see that there were more dry years than rainy years during that phase,” he said. “And when there are dry years, they are pretty nasty.”

Some good news, McManus said as far as he can see, there is still a fair chance the spring will bring some much needed rain. His climate model is what he called “neutral” at the moment, meaning ocean temps are a little cool but not so cool that it qualifies as a full on La Niña.

“Right now, it is really hard to predict but we do see signs of an El Niño building, which could bring wetter weather in the late summer and possibly into fall,” he said. 

Text Only
Local News
  • State board votes again to delay education plan

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's State Board of Education voted on Wednesday for a second time to delay a formal plan for adopting new education standards in math and English amid opposition to the proposal from three education groups that represent public school boards and administrators across Oklahoma.

    July 24, 2014

  • Winners of Cudd Legacy award named

    Three veterans of the oil industry will receive this year's Bobby Joe Cudd Legacy Award during the Tri-State Oil and Gas Convention on Aug. 7 at the Woodward Conference Center.

    July 24, 2014

  • Benefit gun raffles underway

    Woodward Reserve police officers and other Woodward full time officers have come together to support one of their own.

    July 24, 2014

  • Tulsa man looking for military friend

    There are times in everyone's life when you think back and wonder whatever happened to those old friends from your past.

    July 23, 2014

  • Zoning change approved by commission

    Monday night Woodward city commissioners unanimously approved a zoning change that was contested by one local man who was protesting because he wants the neighborhood to continue its residential growth.

    July 23, 2014

  • Tangier Reunion set for Saturday, Sunday

    When Barbara (Allison) Merwin thinks back to the years she spent in the classrooms of Tangier High School, it takes a few moments for her to recall how school life was 60 years ago.

    July 23, 2014

  • Traveler Majors take regional opener

    ALVA - The Traveler Majors continued their strong Connie Mack playoff showing at Northwestern Oklahoma State University Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • County OKs road use agreement

    Woodward County Commissioners on Monday approved a final version of a road use agreement between a energy company planning a wind turbine construction project near southeast Woodward County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Camp to show art is everywhere

    The Woodward Arts Theatre will become a recycling plant next week.

    July 22, 2014

  • Fairview Wrangler Rodeo turns 50 this year

    Western fun continues in Northwest Oklahoma as the Fairview Wrangler’s hosting their 50th annual rodeo.

    July 22, 2014