Path Home Shows 2011 Show Archive July 2011 Show 1130 Drought Impact on Oklahoma

Drought Impact on Oklahoma

Oklahomans are no strangers to the wrath of Mother Nature; we take look at the similarities of this year’s drought to the dust bowl of the 1930’s.
Drought Impact on Oklahoma

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For more information visit these links:

USDA Farm Service Agency (Oklahoma)
Oklahoma Water Resources Board

Show Dates

Show 1130: Drought Impact on Oklahoma

Air date: July 24, 2011

 

Transcript

ROB MCCLENDON:  WELL ALREADY THE DROUGHT WE ARE SUFFERING THROUGH IS CONSIDERED AMONG THE WORST ON RECORD, BUT IN TERMS OF DEPTH, AND NOT DURATION.  TO LEARN MORE ON WHAT THAT MAY MEAN FOR OKLAHOMANS, OUR COURTENAY DEHOFF VISITED THE NATIONAL WEATHER CENTER IN NORMAN.

COURTENAY DEHOFF:  WELL ROB, NORMALLY DARK CLOUDS HOVERING OVER OKLAHOMA WOULD MEAN RAIN, BUT NOT THIS SUMMER.  THOSE DARK CLOUDS ARE LIKELY TO BE SMOKE FROM WILDFIRES THAT HAVE BURNED THOUSANDS OF ACRES IN THE PAST MONTHS; JUST ONE OF THE EFFECTS OF THE SEVERE DROUGHT IN OKLAHOMA THAT HAS FARMERS AND RANCHERS PRAYING FOR RAIN.

A HISTORIC DROUGHT IS POISED TO DO WHAT THE DUST BOWL COULDN’T.  DRIVE TOWNS IN THIS PARCHED REGION OUT OF EXISTENCE, AND CHANGE THE MIDWEST WAY OF LIFE FOR GOOD.

MALE VOICE:  YOU KNOW WHEN WE’RE LOOKING AT LITTLE TINY CLOUDS LIKE THAT IN THE GULF OF MEXICO WE’VE BECOME DESPERATE.

COURTENAY:  IN THE 1930’S BILLOWING DUST STORMS IN OKLAHOMA CAUSED RESIDENTS TO FLEE TO THE WEST COAST.  AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT THE SITUATION NOW IS JUST AS DAUNTING.

[MUSIC]

KEVIN KLOESEL:  WE’RE ALREADY IN THE TOP TEN OF THE LONGEST STREAKS OF ALL TIME.

COURTENAY:  KEVIN KLOESEL AND THE NATIONAL WEATHER CENTER IN NORMAN ARE BRACING THEMSELVES FOR A DROUGHT WITH NO END IN SIGHT.

KEVIN:  THE DROUGHT IN OKLAHOMA, PARTICULARLY IN THE WESTERN PART OF THE STATE IS WHAT IS CONSIDERED D-4.  THAT’S THE WORST KIND OF DROUGHT, THAT’S THE EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT, THAT’S THE KIND OF DROUGHT THAT YOU HAVE LESS THAN A 2% CHANCE OF HAVING IN ANY GIVEN YEAR OVER A 100-YEAR PERIOD.  SO WE’RE TALKING ABOUT AN EXTREME SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WE WOULD SEE MAYBE ONE OR TWO TIMES PER CENTURY.  AND AS YOU KNOW, THIS PARTICULAR CENTURY WE ALREADY HAVE HAD SOME EXCESSIVE DROUGHTS, THE 1930’S, THE DUST BOWL, AND AGAIN IN THE 1950’S.  SO WE’RE SEEING NOW, SOME OF THOSE 1930’S RECORDS FALL IN THIS PARTICULAR DROUGHT.  SO WE ARE LOOKING AT SOMETHING THAT’S VERY SIMILAR TO THE DUST BOWL.

COURTENAY:  AND WEATHER IN OKLAHOMA HAS ALWAYS BEEN SOMEWHAT UNPREDICTABLE.

KEVIN:  DROUGHTS IN OKLAHOMA HAVE BEEN PART OF OUR HISTORY AND SO WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT DROUGHT IN OKLAHOMA, RAINFALL PATTERNS TEND TO EB AND FLOW AND WE CAN HAVE UP TO DECADES LONG DROUGHTS.  LIKE IN THE DUST BOWL ERA OF THE 1930’S WE DID IT AGAIN IN THE 1950’S, WE’RE DOING IT AGAIN IN THE 2000’S, AND SO WHAT WE’RE SEEING IS THAT OKLAHOMA, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS NORMAL.  YOU SEE THESE EXTENDED PERIODS OF DRY, THESE EXTENDED PERIODS OF MOIST; WE HAPPEN TO BE IN ONE OF THOSE EXTENDED PERIODS OF DRY.

MALE VOICE:  IT WOULD HAVE TO BE A HURRICANE OR SOMETHING THAT COMES INTO TEXAS.

COURTENAY:  AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME THAT SEEMS TO GO ON FOREVER, JUST LIKE THE CRACKS IN THE DIRT.

KEVIN:  SO NOW WE’RE TALKING ABOUT BEING IN THE TOP 10 OF THE LONGEST DRY STREAKS AND THE LONGEST HOT STREAKS EVER IN OKLAHOMA, AND THIS ISN’T GONNA STOP ANY TIME SOON.  UNFORTUNATELY, WE’RE LOOKING AT OUTLOOKS THAT TAKE THIS DRY WEATHER RIGHT THROUGH JULY, RIGHT THROUGH AUGUST, INTO SEPTEMBER, AND SO WE COULD BE LOOKING AT A HISTORIC WARM AND DRY PERIOD HERE IN OKLAHOMA; ONE THAT POTENTIALLY BREAKS ALL OF THE RECORDS FROM THE DUST BOWL ERA.

COURTENAY:  AND AS OUR WATER CONTINUES TO DRIP AWAY, OTHER SYMPTOMS OF THE DROUGHT MAY IGNITE ANOTHER BIG PROBLEM.  STATE FORESTER GEORGE GEISSLER.

GEORGE GEISSLER:  WE HAVE ALL OF THE CONDITIONS OUT THERE, RIGHT NOW, THAT COULD BE EXTREME FROM A FIRE STANDPOINT.  BUT, PEOPLE ARE BEING AWARE, THEY’RE TAKING THE TIME AND IF WE CONTINUE THAT VIGILANCE WE WILL BE IN GOOD SHAPE.  YOU KNOW, IF YOU LOOK AT OUR SURROUNDING STATES, TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, KANSAS, THEY’RE HAVING A HUGE WILDFIRE PROBLEM RIGHT NOW.  AND WHILE WE DO HAVE A FIRE PROBLEM ONGOING RIGHT NOW WITH FIRES AROUND OUR STATE, IT’S NOTHING LIKE WHAT YOU SEE THERE; EVEN THOUGH OUR CONDITIONS ARE VERY SIMILAR.  AND THE ONLY THING THAT WE CAN FIGURE AT THIS POINT IS, THAT PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY BEING AWARE AND DOING A GOOD JOB AND WE WANT ALL OKLAHOMANS TO KEEP THAT UP.

COURTENAY:  GEISSLER SAYS WHILE THE DROUGHT IS HARD ON FARMERS AND RANCHERS IT ALSO HAS TO THE POTENTIAL TO BE EQUALLY HARD ON OUR STATE’S FORESTS.  GROWING TREES ARE UNDER A LOT OF STRESS AND THE STATE IS EXPERIENCING A HIGH LOSS OF TREES PLANTED FOR REGENERATION.

ROB: SO IS THE DROUGHT PREDOMINATELY IN THOSE DRYER WESTERN PORTIONS OF OUR STATE?

COURTENAY:  ROB, IT’S AFFECTING THE ENTIRE STATE.  FROM THE VERY FAR WESTERN TIP TO RIGHT HERE IN STILLWATER, WE’RE ALL FEELING THE DRAINING EFFECTS.

ROB:  YOU KNOW, AND I THINK THAT’S A VERY IMPORTANT POINT BECAUSE WHILE IT’S CERTAINLY DIFFICULT TO GET THROUGH THIS, THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS CAN BE DEVASTATING FOR YEARS TO COME.  THANK YOU SO MUCH COURTENAY.

COURTENAY:  THANK YOU.