Recent Rain, Snow Dents Drought

Thursday, February 28th 2013, 2:30 pm
By: News On 6

It has been a rough two weeks for winter weather in our state, but we are now reaping the benefits of all of that moisture. While much of Green Country didn't see the kind of snow under which northwestern Oklahoma is still buried, we still enjoyed plentiful rains and moisture that soaked deeper depths of the ground. This month is finishing as the 12th wettest February in recorded history for Oklahoma. It isn't usually a particularly wet month (climatologically speaking) so to see significant drought improvement now is quite a blessing.

The first map above shows the amount of rain and equivalent liquid precipitation over the past 30 days. The storm system from earlier this week was quite a soaker, but the ones before weren't all that bad either. That takes us to the second map, which shows the current state of the drought. The worst drought category, exceptional drought, has been reduced by 30% and extreme drought dropped from 87% to 62%. Most of eastern Oklahoma lies in the lesser drought category: severe drought. Many of you may be wondering, "How can we be in a severe drought when the ground is like a sopping wet sponge?" This drought index is factoring in the long-term drought situation. While substantial moisture has finally returned to our soil, we still have a ways to go to fill up our reservoirs to their normal capacity and break our multi-year rainfall deficit. In the short-term, we are in great shape – even out west as the snow continues to melt and add moisture to the ground. It will take continued rain (or snow) to now run off into our ponds and lakes now that our soil is near saturation. Once that happens, we'll definitely see the light at the end of this very long, dry tunnel.

We seem to revert back to our older ways again for the week ahead – dry weather will resume with passing storm systems lacking the moisture to give us more precipitation (outside of some sprinkles or flurries). A deep trough in the jet stream is entrenched in the eastern half of the U.S., which puts us in northerly air flow. This is blocking Gulf of Mexico moisture from reaching us and cooling off the ocean a bit, which also inhibits moisture returning to the atmosphere via evaporation.

Here's some good news: as we end meteorological winter today and enter the month of March, temperatures will begin to climb. Much of next week will be very mild and feature spring-like conditions. Just beyond the scope of our 7-day forecast another storm system will come roaring back into the region, which could give us our next round of precipitation.

Until then, stay warm and enjoy the spring-like thaw that awaits us next week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and "like" me on Facebook!