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Latest map shows drought is mostly gone from Oklahoma's typically parched panhandle

National Drought Mitigation Center

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows drought has mostly left Oklahoma's panhandle.

Rain showered over the panhandle in late June, leading to historical rainfall numbers and flooding to homes, structures, roads and fields. Crews rescued people and animals from the flood waters.

Lance Goehring, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas, said the area is usually looking for wetter weather but not in the way it fell this past week because of the flooding and water rescues that followed.

“Unfortunately, when it comes down that hard, I don't think anybody really wants that of course,” Goehring said.

He said they would like to see steady rain over several days so that it can soak into the ground. When rain falls that hard and fast, Goehring said water will run off, filling up bodies of water.

“Some of that will soak in into the ground and all that will help and we did see that a little bit with the drought up there, it did improve a little bit with the rain,” Goehring said.

Looking at the drought monitor, he said it will be slow to react. Typically, after a big heavy rainfall, Goehring said it’s hard to understand the rain’s impact.

“That Drought Monitor could still improve even without additional rainfall, perhaps, it’s going to just lag a little bit,” Goehring said. “We actually have already seen some improvements.”

In Goodwell, nearly 7.7 inches of rain fell in the college town, breaking the previous record of daily rainfall of 5.38 inches, which is a 1,000-year rainfall, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet.

About seven inches fell in Hooker, breaking its rainfall record of five inches and causing 500-year rainfall. Further east in Beaver, over five inches of rain dropped, which is closer to its 100-year rainfall, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet.


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Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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