The Woodward News

Local News

July 27, 2012

Drought expected to get worse

Woodward, Okla. — Drought conditions are expected to worsen throughout the state as hot summer weather continues through August.

"Northwest Oklahoma's conditions are actually some of the worse we've seen in the state," said Gary McManus, associate state climatologist with Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

McManus said on the latest U.S. drought monitor, the counties in the highest level of drought labeled as D4 (Exceptional) include Ellis, Roger Mills, Dewey and Woodward counties.

While the area did see a little rain Wednesday night, he said it was not enough to improve drought conditions at all. By following the normal rainfall patterns in Oklahoma, McManus doesn't expect to see more rain until the end of September.

"We normally expect this drought to taper down as we start getting into the fall months," he said.

The state is expected to head into warmer weather through the month of August and McManus said the state will be in the drought for awhile. However, he said it is possible to get a few stray rainfalls during that time.

Ryan Barnes, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Norman, also said Northwest Oklahoma currently has some of the worse drought conditions in the state. While the rest of the week doesn't show much chance of rain, Barnes said chances may increase after midweek next week.

"It's difficult to say how high those chances will be for Northwest Oklahoma but it looks like maybe Thursday or Friday rain chances may increase again through next weekend," he said.

He also said drought conditions will worsen as we move into August.

Although the Woodward area is below normal rainfall, when comparing to last year, the year-to-date rainfall totals are up, according to Woodward Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer.

"We've had about 10 more inches this year," Lehenbauer said.

However, for the next 60 to 90 days he said things are not looking so great regarding the amount of rainfall expected. There is hope that by mid to late fall or early winter things will return to normal, though, and temperatures will level out.

With El Niño expected to build back up and return, which typically causes normal rainfall, Lehenbauer said temperatures and precipitation levels would level out.  But until then, parts of Northwest Oklahoma will continue to be in D3 Extreme and D4 Exceptional drought conditions.

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