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Recent rainfall provides significant drought relief in Oklahoma, particularly in panhandle

U.S. Drought Monitor
/
NOAA
Drought Monitor Map for June 20, 2023.

Oklahoma has seen significant drought relief over the last few weeks thanks to recent storms.

For several weeks the state has been divided along the I-44 corridor with counties to the west experiencing severe to extreme drought, but late spring storms have turned that around.

U.S. Drought Monitor
/
NOAA

The Oklahoma panhandle has received so much rainfall that it’s at the lowest drought level in years.

“This is the least amount of drought that the panhandle has seen since August 2021,” said State Climatologist Gary McManus. “It’s really unusually heavy rain for those folks. They are getting more rain than other parts of the state.”

Oklahoma Mesonet

McManus says the panhandle looks to be out of danger for awhile, but now eyes are looking to eastern Oklahoma.

“It just seems like we improve one area and then another area starts to go downhill. We’ll have to keep watching it as we go forward,” said McManus.

You may recall the extreme flash drought that occurred last year right around this time, which, according to McManus, was unprecedented.

“I’ve never seen a flash drought come on that suddenly and that fiercely,” McManus said. “It really started June 11 [of last year]. That was the day that the rains went away, and the heat came back immediately above 100 degrees, and we had the worst summer in Oklahoma since 2011.”

At this point, McManus said he’s not too concerned about another repeat of that event this year.

“The depths of the extreme heat and drought last year would be hard to match, but of course it is Oklahoma so we can never say never,” said McManus.

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Nyk has worked in radio since 2011 serving as a board operator, on-air announcer and production director for commercial radio stations in Iowa. Originally from the Quad Cities area, Nyk joined KGOU in 2018 as a practicum student studying Creative Media Production at OU. Upon graduating the following year, he became part of KGOU’s staff and is now the local Morning Edition host. When not on the air, Nyk likes to read, listen to music and follow news about the radio industry.
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