Moderate NW drought spreads

Dry conditions began creeping into the extreme northwest corner of Garfield County this week, while moderate drought conditions took a firmer hold in Northwest Oklahoma, according to the weekly results posted by U.S. Drought Monitor.
There are large swaths of dry conditions and moderate drought in the northwest, southwest and Panhandle regions and severe drought in southeast Oklahoma, with a chunk of McCurtain County in extreme drought, according to Drought Monitor, which is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the north-central part of the state, which includes Garfield County, actually is above average for precipitation for the year.
However, north-central Oklahoma was 1.55 inches below normal for precipitation for the month of November, and 1.54 inches below normal for the past 60 days, according to the climatological survey.
“Drought increased dramatically across Oklahoma through the month (of November),” Gary McManus, state climatologist with OCS, said in a report released Friday.
“More than 19 percent of the state’s drought coverage was considered moderate in intensity, while another 20 percent was labeled as severe.
About 1 percent was in the extreme category.
The Drought Monitor’s intensity scale slides from moderate-severe-extreme-exceptional, with exceptional being the worst classification.” Despite the increase in drought, conditions are slightly better in the state as a whole compared to this time last year, and much better in Garfield County, which was experiencing abnormally dry conditions in 2016.
Wheat and canola fields in some parts of Northwest Oklahoma are beginning to show signs of drought stress, said Josh Bushong, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service northwest area agronomy specialist.
There have been reports of stunted plants and leaf discoloration in wheat, he said.

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