By Bryan Painter
“Yet” is a disclaimer of sorts used by weather and emergency officials.
As the first half of the year ends Saturday, so too has the rain.
And the temperatures have picked up in a big triple-digit way. Altus on Thursday is expected to reach triple-digits for the 19th time this year. And Thursday will likely be the fourth straight day of triple-digit temperatures for Oklahoma City.
The biggest difference between the first half of last year and that of this year is the drought situation, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. By this time last year, the drought had already strengthened across the western half of the state, setting the state up for the hottest summer for any state in the U.S. since 1895.
“This year, significant drought relief occurred throughout the state over the first four months of the year, so the current drought situation has not gotten a full head of steam just yet,” McManus said. “The worry, of course, is that the drought and related summer heat is just now beginning to thrive.”
There it was, “yet.”
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, released Thursday, shows that 48 percent of Oklahoma is experiencing drought conditions, and that is up from 33.2 percent last week.
Much of the drought area is in eastern and western Oklahoma as well as the Panhandle. Central areas are primarily in the “abnormally dry” category, the report shows.
The worst drought conditions, according to the report, are in far northwestern Oklahoma and into the Panhandle where portions of Harper, Beaver and Texas counties are in an “extreme” drought.
“The heat during the infamous summer of 1980 didn’t get going strong until late June, much like this year,” McManus said. “That’s not a prediction of another 1980-style summer, but it does show a heat wave can start late like 1980 or early like last year.”