Drought reduction continues
Oklahoma’s continuing wet ways have helped the state reduce its drought designation once again. The U.S. Drought Monitor map released this morning shows about 27% of the state now in the two worst intensity categories (exceptional and extreme), down about 5% from last week. Only 3% of that 27% is the worst drought category of exceptional.
The statewide average precipitation total for December now stands at 2.33 inches according to data from the Oklahoma Mesonet. That total will continue to increase regardless of further precipitation as the snowpack currently covering most of the Panhandle melts.
The normal total for the entire month is 2.04 inches. This follows the 12th wettest November for the state since 1895. The two wetter-than-normal months, along with a little bit of help from October, have reduced the state’s drought picture significantly since late September. At that time, 66% of the state was painted with exceptional drought intensity.
Topsoil moisture is in good shape across the entire state according to the Mesonet’s sensors at 2 inches.
The dryness is still showing up in western Oklahoma and the Panhandle down to 24 inches, however.
Hopefully that moisture profile in the Panhandle will improve with further melting of the snow. The lack of response to lakes in western Oklahoma remains a concern as well. The reservoir at Ft. Supply is still at 68% capacity and Canton Lake, a secondary water source for Oklahoma City, is at a miserable 28% of capacity. Drought and water released to OKC have significantly drained that lake’s level over the last several months. Lake Altus, a primary irrigation source for southwestern Oklahoma’s cotton crop, is at 18% of capacity, signaling a desperate need for further rains in that area.
In eastern Oklahoma, Lake Eufaula is now at 90% of capacity. Lake Skiatook remains a bit low at 64% of capacity.
Oklahoma and the rest of the Southern Plains looks to be a bit drier over the next week or two, a bit of a respite from the series of south-diving storms we’ve seen over the last two months.