By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
A climatologist for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey says 2012 looks to be the state’s warmest and driest year on record.
“May through December is the driest on record of all,” said Gary McManus. “Records go back to 1895.”
As the state enters year three of a drought cycle, McManus doesn’t hold out much hope of change any time in the near future — and the effect on crops and water supplies won’t be positive, he said.
“It is unfortunate,” McManus said.
A large portion of the state — stretching from the Panhandle to Osage County, is in “exceptional drought.”
“Right now, about 37 percent of Oklahoma is in exceptional drought,” McManus said.
Statewide average temperature for the month of December was 41.9 degrees, 2.9 degrees above normal, McManus said. He expects the calendar year statewide temperature for 2012 to be 63.1 degrees — which will topple the previous calendar year record of 62.9, set in 1954.
December was the 27th month out of the last 33 to finish warmer than normal, McManus noted.
Oklahoma has experienced two previous notable droughts — a five-year drought from 1951-1956, and the infamous “Dust Bowl” drought of 1931-1941.
The biggest difference McManus sees between those droughts and the current drought is time.
“This drought, compared to those, would still be in its infancy,” McManus said.
Droughts feed upon themselves, with lack of moisture in the soil contributing to lack of rain, because water does not evaporate into the air.
January and February typically are dry months in Oklahoma, McManus noted.
“At least it looks like rain might arrive next week,” he said.