Will summer 2011 repeat?
“It’s going to be a summer to remember. People will feel like they’re baking and broiling from the heat.” JANICE STILLMAN EDITOR OF THE OLD FARMER’S ALMANAC
Prepare for another hot, dry summer this year.
Southwest Oklahoma is in the middle of the eighth-driest six months ever. It was actually the driest year to date period until last week, when some parts of the area received as much as 5 inches of rain over the course of four days.
Drought is nothing new for this area. As farmers and lawn owners can attest, the region is experiencing a 50 percent rainfall deficit dating back to this time last year. The entirety of Southwest Oklahoma is gripped in either a extreme or exceptional drought the two worst categories on the U.S. Drought Monitor's scale.
As bad as the map looks now, it's actually somewhat improved from a week ago, when everyone stared at the forecast with child-like glee, anticipating the approach of much-needed rainfall as a kid anticipates Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Those torrential rains the arrived, bringing relief to a parched area. More storms are on the way and with them the hopes of an entire population longing to avoid a summer defined by record-setting temperatures.
"Without it, our summer was looking more and more like 2011 and 2012 with unbearable heat, fire danger and dangerously low lake levels," said Gary McManus, state climatologist for the Oklahoma Climatological Society. "The storm gave us a chance to recharge a bit and hopefully add some reinforcing rains over the next week weeks before our typical summer weather sets in."
That typical summer weather could still be more intense than normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The three-month precipitation outlook shows equal chances of above- or below-average rainfall for June through August the dog days of summer. But when those three months average less than 3 inches of rain, below average usually means little to none. The most moisture accumulating in many area rain gauges this year could be from sprinkler systems before water restrictions shut them down.