Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus Gives Temperature and Drought Outlook for Next Few MonthsWed, 20 Jul 2022 11:45:06 CDT
With extreme heat coupled with a lack of moisture in recent weeks, Oklahoma has been slipping further into drought conditions. Farm Director, KC Sheperd, catches up with state climatologist, Gary McManus as he gives an outlook on weather conditions for the next few months.
“Heat always comes in the summer of Oklahoma, but this heat is a little bit ridiculous even for us,” McManus said. “It is a very uncommon event to get as hot as we have been in the last couple of days.”
There are a few days left of hundred-degree weather, McManus said, but a week at the most. McManus added it should cool down a little by August and get down into the 90s with a chance of some rains.
The next good chance of rain, McManus said is probably in September, but it is hard to say.
“A little bit further into August, it does look like we might break down that heat dome a little bit which would allow some more storms in here,” McManus said, “but the type of drought-ending rainfall that we saw for instance back in May and the early part of June- I don’t see that coming any time soon, so at least probably for a couple more weeks, we are going to go on the dry side.”
While many are comparing this summer to the conditions in 2011 and 2012, McManus said current conditions are not as poor.
“Summer of 2011 was probably the most legendary heat that Oklahoma has seen since the dust bowl,” McManus said. “We are not going to match that summer. That ended up being the hottest summer on record, not just in Oklahoma, but for any state in the United States.”
If anything, McManus said this summer is close in comparison to that of 2012, but not 2011.
“We don’t want to compare it to 2011,” McManus said. “That heat got started early and it didn’t stop for anything, and it really took off. It was the extreme of the extremes here for Oklahoma.”
Many people are referring to the drought as a “flash drought”. McManus said this is because generally, a drought takes months or seasons to develop, but a flash drought can occur in a matter of a few weeks.
“We can trace that flash drought back to that June 11th time frame when that heat really ramped up and the precipitation shut off,” McManus said. “The impacts of that La Nina do start to taper off as we get into the summer months. So, this is just an unfortunate pattern that we have seen develop - a really sticky pattern where the heat dome has remained camped over the center part of the United States, and like yesterday, it was directly over Oklahoma.”
When the heat dome is over us like it has been, McManus said extreme heat and dryness are to be expected. The third year of La Nina can be expected, he added because last winter was the second La Nina episode in a row.
“So, that is something we are going to have to watch out for because that does tend to bring us warmer and dryer weather throughout that period, so that would not be welcome with the flash drought already occurring,” McManus said. “If we did have the wind that we saw previously in the spring and early summer, we would have really bad fire issues.”
Chances of fire are high right now, McManus said, because if it does get windy enough, with the type of heat Oklahoma has experienced lately and the lack of moisture, some large fires could occur.
“Every drought ends with rain,” McManus said. “We can just hope that this fall, rain comes, and we see a reduction in this heat and drought not only in the fall but maybe as we get into August.”
Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from KC Sheperd and Gary McManus as he gives an outlook on weather conditions in Oklahoma.
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