Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

March 20, 2014

Drought continues but improving

Drought will continue in the Enid area, but is expected to improve this spring, according to National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

In Oklahoma, there is a narrow band in the center of the state stretching from the Kansas border to the Texas border where “drought remains but improves,” according to the Climate Prediction Center in its U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for March 20 through June 30. That area includes Garfield County.

The western third of Oklahoma is an area where “drought persists or intensifies,” according to CPC.

“Climatologically, a significant fraction (55-60 percent) of the annual precipitation is received in this region during the (April-June) time frame,” according to CPC. “With no clear precipitation signal from the CPC outlooks, it is reasoned that the lower Plains is more susceptible to the influx of low-level Gulf moisture and frontal boundaries, and has the best odds of drought removal.”

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, all of Garfield, Grant, Kingfisher and Blaine counties, as well as parts of Major, Alfalfa and Woods counties, are listed in moderate drought.

Woodward County, most of Woods County and the western part of Major County are listed in severe drought, the third-worst category of drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

The southwest part of the state continues to be ravaged by drought. That area includes the only part of the state listed in exceptional drought, the worst category, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Mesonet weather-recording site at Breckinridge has recorded .75 of an inch of precipitation in March. That comes after recording .52 of an inch in February and just .05 of an inch in January.

The Mesonet site at Lahoma has recorded .38 of an inch of precipitation in March. It recorded .43 of an inch in February and .03 of an inch in January.

For the year, the north-central part of Oklahoma, which includes Garfield County, has recorded an average of 1.13 inches of rain, which is 30 percent of normal rainfall, according to Oklahoma Climatological Survey. That makes it the 12th driest year so far since 1921.

The lack of rain is having an effect on crops in the area.

Just one percent of Oklahoma’s wheat crop is listed in excellent condition, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Another 17 percent is listed in good condition, while 45 percent is in fair condition. Thirty-seven percent is listed in poor or very poor condition.

For canola, 10 percent of the crop is listed in good condition, according to NASS, and 32 percent is in fair condition. More than half of the crop, 58 percent, is listed in poor or very poor condition.

Pasture and range lands also are suffering across Oklahoma. One percent of those lands are listed in excellent condition, according to NASS. Another 13 percent are listed in good condition, and 42 percent in fair condition. Forty-four percent are listed in poor or very poor condition, according to NASS.

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