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August Begins and Drought Ends

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August rarely heralds improving drought conditions, but 2013 seems to be yet another year that isn't going by the book. After nearly 5 inches of rain during the month of July, our wettest month of the year thus far, Tulsa and surrounding locations are no longer in a drought! It comes as little surprise to many residents who have seen their yards grow lush again – an unusual sight for the height of summer around here. Compared to the last two years, we should really be counting our blessings.

The attached image compares last year's drought to this year's scenario. What a difference a year can make! With just a third of the monthly rainfall last July and temperatures above 110° on some days, we rapidly fell into an extreme drought, the second worst category of drought indicated by the red. Now, just 23% of Oklahoma, confined to the western portion of the state, is in that same scenario. The yellow shading can be seen as a transition out of drought and is not officially classified as a drought. Thus, Green Country is rather green once again with no official drought to be found.

This time of year, we can't get too complacent with rainfall. Even in average heat, we lose a lot of moisture through evaporation to the atmosphere, depleting our soil of that much-needed water. Fortunately, we are calling for another couple rounds of rain and storms in the next few weeks. (I think we all just hope it doesn't amount to anything as damaging as last Tuesday night's wicked windstorm.)

Looking ahead, our weather pattern supports periodic storms along with very muggy air. That residual moisture is making our near-average high temperatures take us to dangerous heat conditions. For the week ahead, heat index values will likely be at or above 100°. The only relief might come from late-day storms that form to our north along a stalled out frontal boundary in Kansas and move south into our region. Just about every night starting this weekend offers that opportunity, although it won't likely occur every night. Eventually, a strong enough wave in the jet stream will force that boundary south into Oklahoma, allowing cooler air to filter into the region and enhance our rain chances. It's not very common for August to offer this many rain chances, but we'll take it! The next two maps show our rainfall and temperature trend compared to average for the time window up to two weeks out. Clearly, the summer of 2013 is no summer of 2012 or 2011. Our measly 5 100°+ days of the year would attest to that alone!

Stay cool and don't underestimate the heat we do have. For those of you still cleaning up from last week's storm, I wish you the very best in your efforts. It's better to take care of everything now before another storm would come through and add insult to injury. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @GroganontheGO, and like my page on Facebook!

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