Drought Improves but Fire Danger Grows

Thursday, October 18th 2012, 11:20 am
By: News On 6

In the wake of a strong cold front, a brisk northerly wind is reminding us that we are entering the cooler half of the year. For those who like cool, crisp days, this is certainly refreshing. We could do without the 40mph wind gusts, but that just comes with the season here in the central United States.

Like our changing foliage, our Drought Map has changed once again. It's still full of those autumnal colors, which is not nearly as pretty of a sight as our trees these days, but the change has been for the better. Thanks to the weekend storms, we've seen a ~4% reduction in the "Exceptional" Drought and a 14% reduction in the "Extreme" Drought. These are baby steps compared to where we want to be, but most of the improvements came in our part of the state (see attached map). Tulsa is running over 7.0" behind average for rainfall since January 1st, which is quite a deficit considering the fact we're heading into our climatologically driest time of the year. Our water levels at the various lakes/reservoirs across Green Country range from normal to substantially low (i.e.. Lake Skiatook). Little by little, this drought is improving, but the end is hardly in sight.

Even with somewhat recent rainfall, we have another issue on our hands as this week ends. Fire danger is very high with the unwelcome combination of dry air and high winds. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for portions of north-central Oklahoma through Thursday evening. Aside from the biting nature of this wind, it could rapidly spread a fire from a mere spark, so be sure to avoid burning (or throwing cigarette butts) outside today.

This autumn chill will be a thing of the past by Saturday afternoon as southerly winds return. It will be downright warm and muggy by early next week as Gulf moisture feeds back into the state. It may not feel like the end of October, but at least we have another shot at rain as the remnants of Hurricane Paul (from the Eastern Pacific) meet up with a stalled-out frontal boundary next Monday and Tuesday. Until then, it's shaping up to be great weather for football, Oktoberfest, Fall Break, and all other outdoor activities aside from the wind, of course.

I love this time of the year. There's hardly anything consistent about our weather from October into November, but we get the best of both of the warm and cold seasons in my opinion: the warmth without as much humidity and the refreshing crispness of the cool weather. The fiery foliage adds to the beauty, as long as it doesn't all blow away!

Hold onto your hats, and be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and "like" me on Facebook!