While temperature drops in Oklahoma, lack of precipitation remains a problem

Wednesday, September 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- It's not the heat; it's the precipitation.

While the high temperatures in several Oklahoma cities stayed out of the triple digits for the first time in weeks Tuesday, a lack of rainfall remained a problem across the state.

While several cities remained in the low hundreds Tuesday, most highs were in double digits, including 92 in Tulsa and Bartlesville.

Lawton, which had baked in 110-degree weather Monday, reached a high of 99 Tuesday.

Oklahoma City reached only 96, ending a streak of 17 straight days above 100 degrees. But another streak continued there: 38 straight days with no rainfall.

The cooler temperatures also aren't helping farmers in southwestern Oklahoma, who still have to haul water for their livestock after drought-like conditions have dried up ponds in the area.

Jeff Baumann is the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension agriculture educator for Cotton County. He said 500 to 1,500-gallon water tanks in the back of trucks or on trailers are a common sight.

"Guys have been doing that for a month," he said.

Thirteen Oklahoma Mesonet stations have gone more than 40 days without recording any measurable rainfall. Tipton, in southwestern Oklahoma, hasn't seen rain in 68 days, followed by Altus with a drought string of 65 days.

About another 30 Mesonet stations reported less than 1 1/2 inches in the last 60 days.

Baumann said that Tuesday brought clouds not filled with rain, but with dust.

"The skies are brown," he said. "It's getting to the point that not just the plowed fields are blowing, the pastures are too."

And as the drought tightens its grip on the state, many cities are tightening their grip on water users.

In Oklahoma City, the problem was not drought, but a valve that blew out at a water treatment plant.

A watering ban was in effect in Oklahoma City until 7 a.m.

Wednesday, at which time customers with even-numbered addresses were allowed to water their lawns. Customers with odd-numbered addresses may water Thursday. City officials said they expect to lift all restrictions Friday.

Residents in Lawton were also being asked to cut back on water use Tuesday as workers tried to fix a broken water line there.