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Weather and Climate

20 Oklahoma Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas Because Of Drought

The latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor as of Jan. 14, 2014.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Oklahoma got a reminder this week that — despite a wet year for many parts of the state — drought continues to rage in other areas, mainly the south and southwest.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated counties in 11 states as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought, including 20 counties in Oklahoma.

“Our hearts go out to those Oklahoma farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a press release.

StateImpact spoke with Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus in December, who warned about getting too excited over drought improvement in 2013:

McManus says the drought might still be in its early states, and recent wet weather an aberration. “Even during the dust bowl drought there was a year in there where it was extremely wet … ” McManus says. “So that’s how these longer term droughts work. They see periods of intensification intermixed with periods of relief. And some unlucky folks, like western Oklahoma, they just get it straight through.”

Oklahoma counties included in the designation are: Beaver, Beckham, Cimarron, Comanche, Tillman, Cotton, Custer, Ellis, Greer, Washita, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Woods, Kiowa, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, and Woodward.

Farmers in ranchers in those, and contiguous counties may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans through the federal government.


StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

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