Drying Out in a Hurry

Thursday, May 24th 2012, 2:33 pm
By: News On 6

Our May days are going by without much ado in the weather world here in Oklahoma. One year ago today, we had anything but quiet weather to handle when several Oklahoma communities took a hit from devastating tornadoes. While the lack of tornadoes this month has been a blessing, we are starting to deal with an all-too-familiar issue once again: drought.

This has been a record-setting dry and warm month for Oklahoma so far. If it keeps up, we will shatter heat and dryness records dating back to the 1800s. We were able to coast awhile without too many problems thanks to a stormy and rather wet April. However, with a consistent ridge of high pressure and jet stream pattern resembling July, the heat has settled in with only brief periods of relief. Tulsa has only received 0.15" of rain since May began. The driest May on record was all the back in 1897 when only 0.80" of rain fell. That's a record we don't want to break as we head into the summer months.

The dry conditions have finally shown up in the latest Drought Monitor. The map above shows widespread "abnormally dry" conditions for most of eastern Oklahoma. Locations near the Oklahoma-Kansas border had more rain several weeks ago, allowing them to be in better shape. Still, the effects of the dry spell are starting to be seen in the agricultural world with soil moisture being depleted. The heat and wind only accelerate the drying trend. If you haven't started watering your yard, it may already be putting on a brownish hue.

There was a brownish hue to the sky in Oklahoma Thursday as well. You may have noticed that haze, which is actually smoke from wildfires hundreds of miles away in southwestern New Mexico! While we are on the dry side, they are dealing with serious wildfire issues. Hopefully this won't be a sign of what's to come for us!

There is some good news. While rain and storms will probably avoid Oklahoma through most of the Memorial Day weekend, a more active pattern will be developing for us next week. A deep trough will form in the jet stream to our west, which will provide enough energy to send down a cold front early next week. If this boundary stalls in our area as the upper-level energy passes to our north, then we could have several days of unsettled, wet weather! Hopefully this comes true just after your Memorial Day weekend plans come to an end – and not a moment later. The longer we dry out, the tougher it will be on our vegetation. A dry spring often leads to an unusually hot and dry summer.

We still have time to make up the rainfall deficit, even before May comes to a close. Our rain and storm chances don't usually shut off to rare episodes only until the end of June. Let's hope for the rain and that this return to drought-like conditions is just a blip on the radar, so to speak. ;) Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and "like" me on Facebook!