The verdict is in from the U.S. Drought Monitor… our recent rainfall has made a dent in the drought situation across northeast Oklahoma. Much of the region saw improvement by at least one drought category. Other parts of the state weren't so fortunate. In fact, substantial relief was hard to come by outside of Green Country. The drought has actually worsened across the far southeastern corner of the state. Even areas that saw several inches of rain last week in western Oklahoma were undermined by the hurried return of triple-digit heat.
We'll take what we can get though! Drought relief never comes overnight. I don't know about you, but I am delighted to see green grass once again growing in my yard. According to the Oklahoma Mesonet, there is a modest amount of moisture in the soil, 10 inches below the surface. The ground wasn't totally quenched, but it was given enough water to tie us over for a short while.
For many gardeners, the rainfall last week was too little too late. For those of you adamantly watering their plants and shielding them from the heat, you at least had a few days rest!
The extreme heat and drought this summer also does not bode well for brilliant colors this fall. The combination of dry weather and hot conditions in the summer usually makes leaves turn that rusty color of brown as they crinkle up and fall listlessly to the ground.
So what does the future hold for us? There is still hope of a greener Green Country. Models do indicate some extreme temperatures and bad wildfire conditions in the short-term. However, a ridge of high pressure will likely push further west, allowing for more storm systems to at least give us a glancing blow of rain and thunderstorms through next week. In the longer-range, the Climate Prediction Center gives northeast Oklahoma a moderate chance of seeing some improvement in the drought as we head into autumn. That's certainly no guarantee, but continues to build hope for greener pastures!
The other thing to watch out for is the Tropics. We are entering the most active time of year for hurricanes. Our computer models are consistently developing a beastly tropical system next week that could make a run at the southeastern United States. If this system can be steered into the Gulf of Mexico, I do hope it can bring drought relief without the side effects (wind damage, storm surge, etc). Unfortunately, the U.S. is overdue for a hurricane landfall. The last one to cross the nation's coastline was Hurricane Ike in 2008. I guess as, the saying goes, be careful what you wish for!