Goodwell, Oklahoma—the “New Death Valley?”

There is a new blog post out at the Southern Plains Perspective. Read below!

That’s quite a headline.    Let me answer that question; Goodwell is not becoming the “New Death Valley.”  That said, it is really, REALLY, REALLY dry in Texas County in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

It’s now been over 221 days since Goodwell has received a quarter of an inch or more of rain.  This comes after Goodwell set the record for all-time lowest annual precipitation in the entire State of Oklahoma total with 6.48 inches in 2022.  According to the drought monitor that was released last Thursday, Goodwell has now received a whopping 0.6 inches through March 31 in 2023.

All of this was pointed out to me by Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus last week (I interviewed Gary for our podcast—you can listen to him here).  Gary suggested that I take a look at the mesonet record for Goodwell (if you have never checked out the Oklahoma mesonet, you should, including subscribing to Gary’s daily mesonet ticker).  I believe his direct quote to me was, “The rain numbers in Goodwell?  They’re like Death Valley.”

Obviously, there was a bit of hyperbole in what Gary was saying…but not much.  Death Valley had .96 inches of rain in 2023.   Goodwell has had .63. 

So far in 2023, Goodwell, Oklahoma is dryer than Death Valley.

This should change as we go through the course of the year.  Maybe. 

We are now heading into the months when we normally get a real shot of precipitation before we move into the dry heat of summer.  The concern is that if we don’t get rain this spring, it could get really, really nasty. 

It already is pretty nasty and not just in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  Here is the latest drought monitor map (remember, the darker the color, the worse the drought).

Not only are we seeing the drought hanging on in Kansas and deepening in Oklahoma, but we are also seeing dry conditions worsen in South Texas. 

Yep, the good news just keeps on coming.

Hopefully, we will see moisture over the next few weeks and months.  In the meantime, we need to be mindful of what comes with the dry conditions—wildfire, wind erosion, forage challenges—and plan accordingly.

 As we have said before, the worst time to plan for wildfires is when you see smoke on the horizon.  With all the wind blasts coming our way, now might be a good time to go over your fire planning.  Also consider how to minimize wind erosion (we need to do this anyway) and what kind of overall drought plan you have.  And as always, remember to check with your local USDA Service Center to see what kind of assistance might be available.

Here’s hoping that someday I can write about all the rain that fell in Goodwell…..

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