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Recent heavy rainfall brings relief to Oklahoma's drought conditions

Raychel Sanner

Recent heavy rain has put a dent in Oklahoma's drought.

Just three months ago, nearly 92% of the state was experiencing some level of drought, now it’s less than half that.

In May, Muskogee County was on average the wettest county in the Lower 48, with nearly a foot of rain, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

State Climatologist Gary McManus says all this moisture has decreased the drought concern heading into the hottest part of the year.

"We’ve really staved off a really bad situation. Anytime in Oklahoma you have drought conditions in place as you enter the summer months you can really see those drought conditions flourish. But since we did get all that rain right here right before it's about to turn hot again the drought forecast looks a lot better," said McManus.

Temperatures are expected to be at or near triple digits over the next several days. McManus warns the state could go right back into drought if too many days go by without more moisture.

"When you get an abrupt end to the rainfall—even if you had good rains—and you get that heat to crank up to above normal territory, the heat and reduction in the soil moisture start to work together...and drought starts to flourish and you get a flash drought. A drought that would occur faster than you'd normally expect," said McManus.

The highest level of drought continues in the western panhandle. According to the Climate Prediction Center, some level of drought will likely persist across western Oklahoma through the summer season.

 Seasonal drought outlook from June 1 - Aug. 31, 2022
Seasonal drought outlook from June 1 - Aug. 31, 2022

 Seasonal precipitation outlook through August 2022.
Seasonal precipitation outlook through August 2022.

Nyk Daniels is KGOU’s Morning Edition host.
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