Recent Rains A Drought-Buster?

Thursday, August 11th 2011, 1:47 pm
By: News On 6

Welcome to my inaugural Blog Entry!

Our August skies have finally opened up, and the parched Oklahoma land is drinking up all the water it can get. The recent weather pattern change has given many Oklahomans a reason to rejoice. As a native Tulsan, I know how rarely we experience a good, soaking rain in August!

So are the recent rains enough to end the drought? The answer is, unfortunately, no. Is it enough to green up Green Country a bit? Quite possibly.

The most recent Drought Monitor (from Tuesday, August 9th) shows a worsening scene in eastern Oklahoma. All but the northern and eastern fringes of the region are in an extreme drought – the second worst drought category. Approximately 64% of Oklahoma falls under the worst category – exceptional drought. Before Thursday's rainfall, Tulsa was nearly half a foot below normal in annual rainfall. Some locations are far worse: Wichita Falls is nearly 15" behind for the year. Although, Tulsa's rainfall deficit is not huge, the nearly unbroken series of 100+ degree days with little to no rain made the conditions go downhill in a hurry this summer. You know it's bad when our temperatures are on par with Death Valley for days on end and river water temperatures in southeastern Oklahoma are up to 104 degrees!

But let's look at the positive: Tulsa received over 3 inches of rain earlier this week. As I write this, heavy thunderstorms are dumping rain over the city once again. And, several more rounds of storms are in my forecast into the weekend.

The rain has dropped the fire danger in the near-term. Even so, a Burn Ban remains in effect for the entire state. Be sure to honor the ban since no one wants to repeat the wildfire scenes from earlier this week.

It's not a drought-buster, but the recent rains may be enough to put a dent in the drought. We need more than just one rainy spell to see major improvement. A slow-moving tropical system or a long-term pattern change would be clutch.

My advice: Soak in the rainy spell. Jump in the puddles. Dance in the rain. Park a little further from the door to enjoy a "cool" walk! Don't let this bout of refreshing air pass by unnoticed. After all, we know August is far from over and the heat will return.

Michael Grogan