Drought Surges In January

The dry weather that plagued Oklahoma through the final three months of 2017 showed no signs of letting up during the first month of 2018. The lack of precipitation was especially prominent across western Oklahoma where 19 of the Oklahoma Mesonet’s 120 stations received no precipitation for the month, and another 47 saw less than a quarter-inch. In some cases, the precipitation-free streak extended back to early October. The Mesonet sites at Woodward and Hooker had gone 113 consecutive days without a single drop of moisture by the end of January. Not coincidentally, drought was able to take a huge leap forward during January, and its impacts were significant. Wildfire danger became a daily worry, and Oklahoma’s winter wheat crop suffered tremendously. The USDA listed Oklahoma’s winter wheat crop condition at 79 percent poor or very poor by the end of January, up from 42 percent at the end of December and 10 percent at the end of November. Dry stock ponds and a lack of grazing led to reports of some cattle herds being partially liquidated. January’s hazardous weather was not all confined to drought and wildfire, however. Oklahoma saw its first tornado warnings of the new year with possible twisters in LeFlore and McCurtain counties on Jan. 21, although no official touchdowns were reported in the preliminary storm reports.


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