The misery index loves company.
Actually it’s the heat index, that measure of temperature mixed with the humidity. But with recent heating, the temperature is becoming a master over the moisture. Lower humidity may help 98 degrees feel more like, well, 99 degrees, but it also increases fire danger. That’s misery wrapped in a cocoon of concern.
The miserable company Oklahoma is now keeping is the 72 percent of the country labeled by the U.S. Drought Monitor as being in the “abnormally dry” category or worse. This is the largest geographic extent of drought or pre-drought conditions recorded since the Drought Monitor began in 1999, according to Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus.
“Odds favor more drought development as summer trudges ahead and a dry Oklahoma looks with anticipation toward the fall rainy season,” McManus noted last week in an Oklahoma Climatological Survey press release. Nearly half the state is already enduring drought conditions, he said, with the remainder “abnormally” dry, a precursor to outright drought classification.
Given the misery of the summer of 2011, this is discomfiting news. We’ve gone from “Surely it can’t be as bad as last year” to “Here we go again!”
At least the economic misery index (adding the unemployment rate to the inflation rate) doesn’t yet have the firefighters on high alert.