UPDATE: In Oklahoma City, It’s So Hot And Dry There’s Mandatory Water Rationing

Oklahoma continues to get scorched by extreme heat and drought. The entire state is now in extreme drought, and more than 70% of the state is in severe drought (or worse), up from 50% just a week ago.

According to Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, July was the 23rd month out of the last 28 to come in warmer than statewide averages. Bloomberg reports:

More than 64 temperature records were broken in Oklahoma during a scorching July, and additional ones fell across the state Wednesday on the first day of August, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The National Weather Service reported that Guthrie, about 30 miles north of Oklahoma City, registered 114 degrees to break the statewide record of 113 degrees, set at Meeker in 1896 and tied in Ralston last year.

The Oklahoman reports:

The January through July statewide average of 63.9 degrees was easily the warmest on record for the first seven months of the year at 4.8 degrees above normal.

It’s not only been extremely hot, but very dry. The May through July statewide average rainfall total of 5.99 inches fell 6.25 inches below normal and ranked as the third-driest period on record, McManus said.

Norman and Watonga have each gone 56 consecutive days with less than a tenth of an inch of rain on any one day, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network.

In some areas of Oklahoma, the drought has been like one solid punch. Since October 2010, areas in the western Oklahoma Panhandle have only had 17 to 20 inches of rainfall, McManus said.

Even as residents swelter in the relentless heat, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe continued his tirade about man-made global warming during a Senate hearing yesterday, saying the science had “collapsed.”

This isn’t the first piece of heat-related irony to hit Inhofe. Last year, the pro-pollution Senator had to cancel his keynote address at the Heartland Institute’s climate denial conference after getting sick from an algae bloom exacerbated by extreme heat and drought. He joked at the time, the “environment strikes back.”

But it’s no joke what we’re doing to the climate and what, as a result, the climate is starting to do to us — and the residents of parched Oklahoma City:

Skyrocketing water use in Oklahoma City during the worst of the ongoing heat wave has prompted officials to implement a mandatory water rationing system until conditions improve….

The rationing also applies to Oklahoma City suburbs that use city water. Utilities spokeswoman Debbie Ragan said cities and other areas affected by the rationing are Blanchard, Canadian County Rural Water District No. 3, Deer Creek Rural Water District, Edmond, El Reno, Moore, Mustang, Newcastle, Norman, Piedmont, Pottawatomie County Rural Water District No. 3, Shawnee, Warr Acres and Yukon.

UPDATE: After we published this piece, we saw reports from people on the ground in Stillwater that the melting streetlights were due to a nearby fire. The person who took the photo, Patrick Hunter, described the scene: “Being the person that actually took this photo, I’d say that this was due to a fire semi-close by coupled with the unbelievable heat we are experiencing. Still an amazing photo and not fake as many are saying on here. Enjoy!”

Here’s a picture from Stillwater, Oklahoma, where temperatures will reach has high as 115 degrees today. The photo comes from Patrick Hunter, who sent the picture to KFOR-TV.


27 Responses to UPDATE: In Oklahoma City, It’s So Hot And Dry There’s Mandatory Water Rationing

  1. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Stephen – as they stand those figures for scant rainfall are very misleading to most people. Only farmers and others on the land have much experience of what they actually mean.

    During drought, and particularly during hot drought, what matters is the rate and duration of rainfall. With the soil baked, a heavy downpour will run straight off, leaving little behind which then rapidly evaporates off, leaving no change to soil moisture.

    Light showers evaporate off very fast, again leaving no change to soil moisture.

    Moderate repeated showers over a week or more are required to soften the soil and allow the water to penetrate and raise soil moisture levels.

    Thus “56 days with less than a tenth of an inch on any one day” means no effective rainfall has occurred at all, and “17 to 20 inches in the Oklahoma panhandle since 2010” likely means that only a small fraction of that amount has been any help.

    In short, from a farming and wildlife perspective, the present drought is substantially worse than the pretty extreme rainfall figures indicate.



  2. prokaryotes says:

    I feel offended by this temperature. And how will Iglo-Inhofe spin this record breaking weather now?

    Texas is at the epicenter of climate disruption and the inhabitants do nothing to combat this developing threat.

  3. I lived in Tulsa, OK just before Inhofe became the mayor. However, based on what I have followed of his career, he will never admit any wrong, especially when it might lose the next election.

    The only way to get him out out of the Senate is to have the Univ. of OK quarterback run against him.

  4. Nina says:

    What? Is NO ONE in OK praying the drought away? Clearly OKies are just a bunch of lazy sinners, and climate change a conspiracy of them liberal elites. How much more is it going to take for rightwing nuts to WAKE the EFF UP?

  5. Ricky says:

    Plenty of people are “praying for rain.” And there are others of us that abhor the policies and speeches of those that represent us. It’s very easy to lump “Okies” into one category and snipe at us from the anonymity of the internet, but remember there are some rational people living here trying to get the masses to listen to reason.

    I don’t defend the position of the climate-change deniers, but they do have a right to express it. It would help if there was less name calling and more efforts to educate stubborn, Rush-fed people around here.

    Oklahomans are not all right-wing nuts.

  6. Chris says:

    “The entire state is now in extreme drought, and more than 70% of the state is in severe drought…”

    You flipped the labels. That should read

    Nearly the entire state is now in severe drought, and more than 70% of the state is in extreme drought.

  7. John McCormick says:

    Inhofe should donate his igloo to Oklahoma City’s water department.

  8. Tom L says:

    Please don’t forget your Native American brothers and sisters in this disaster. Inhofe and the rest do not represent our values.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Welcome to the Land of Oz – where water restrictions are a way of life, even when we are battling floods, ME

  10. David F. says:

    Despite all of this, we have the USAToday publishing an op-ed from a discredited denier, repeating more debunked nonsense. I don’t normally do this, but feel free to vote this piece down.

  11. David F. says:

    I agree, Lewis. It’s certainly been dry, but there have been drier years. What is really contributing to making the drought so severe this year is the fact that it’s been so hot for so long, and the rain that has occurred has been scattered. Even during the spring, there were very little in the way of widespread, soaking rainfall. Most of the spring was dry and unusually warm.

  12. Art says:

    Just to be clear, the water rationing has to do with watering lawns. Alternating days depending on where you live.

    There’s plenty for bathing and drinking.

    Lawn-watering controls are nothing new to our part of the country.

  13. Steve D, says:

    The Bloomberg report that Guthrie,OK set the state record high temperature of 114 is in error.

    According NCDC state maximum high temperature records the state record for Oklahoma is 120 degrees and has been tied 3 other times… all in July and August of 1936.

    That 120 degree record was set and tied in these towns:
    Alva,OK – 7/18/1936
    Altus,OK – 7/19/1936
    Poteau,OK – 8/10/1936
    Altus,OK – 8/12/1936

  14. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Around the world there are areas of drought and areas of flooding. Kee’s world
    is a lighthearted way to track current problems in its area.
    Just drop back to the first week of July and then click forward.

  15. Carmalene says:

    Are their any restrictions for the gas companies water use or are they still allowed to use millions of gallons to frack wells? When TX had water rationing last year the gas companies were still allowed to use as much as water as they needed.

  16. I believe it is a daily record…as in “hottest Aug 2 ever”.

  17. Someone in OK should build an “Inhofe Igloo” in his home town central square. People could all guess how long it would last…and give the winner an apple pie.

  18. Artful Dodger says:

    Also from the Oklahoman article:

    “Oklahoma’s statewide average temperature in July was 85.9 degrees, 4.3 degrees above normal.”

    These are the average temperatures predicted for mid Century… Crows come home to roast early, hmm?

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    And that is called a drought? Another relative word then. From all the write-ups, I thought it must have been serious, ME

  20. MorinMoss says:

    Bastardi (I’ll refrain from making snide comments about his name) is a pandering clown.

    I’m still waiting for Arctic sea ice to rebound to 2005 levels as he’s predicted at least twice in the last few years.

  21. Steve D, says:

    You are undoubtedly right that it is… but that is NOT what the Bloomberg report said. It implied that it is the highest temperature ever recorded in OK, period.

    These things should be made clear… especially given the hysteria surrounding the current status of global warming.

    By far, in terms of state record highs, the decade of the 1930s is the hottest in U.S. history history with 35 state records set or tied.

    The 2nd hottest decade was 1910-1919 with 11 records.

    Since the year 2000 there has only been one officially state record high temperature tied and none exceeded.

    That is according to the U.S. National Climate Data Center (NCDC).

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    In Australia the denialists are growing more extreme. The Murdoch sewer remains 90 odd % denialist, and the other big media group, Fairfax is tending more and more that way. In the journal of the business parasite class, ‘The Financial Review’, they’ve always poo-pooed anthropogenic climate change in a sort of reflex Rightwing way, it being part of the ideological baggage one must carry. Now they are pushing more and more both crazy, in-house, denialists, and a false ‘equivalence’ message, in the mass market broadsheets like The Sydney Morning Herald. The Fairfax operation is pretty near bankrupt, and our billionaire behemoth mining Boss, Gina Rinehart, has set her sights on taking it over, as an ideological platform for her extreme Rightwing views, which naturally include climate destabilisation denial. It seems that the hacks, wishing to impress the Boss presumptive, are carrying out some pre-emptive groveling to her prejudices.
    And the new Rightwing state regimes are tearing up every environmental law established over the last thirty years. This all in tandem with a pretty crazy hate campaign against environmentalists in the MSM. So, I’d say that in Australia, at least, the chances of the Right coming to terms with ecological reality are less than zero. These are people who hate environmentalists, hate undisturbed nature that should be ‘developed’ into money and who have achieved their ’eminence’ in life by bullying and intimidation, and they are incapable of change-they only ever grow more fanatical.

  23. Joan Savage says:

    In early July, folks in West Virginia talked Bill McKibben out of a Washington DC version of the igloo melt. It was too hard for them to see ice wasted on a demonstration.

    He understood.

    (Information from Bill McKibben’s July 7, 2012 email to many.)

  24. M Tucker says:

    The drought in the central portion of the US is not the only drought in the US. In the Southeast a continuing drought plagues Georgia for the second year in a row. The Southwest is of course still in a drought and Hawaii is suffering as well. I wish the researchers at CP would try to keep the big picture in mind for the entire world as well as the entire US. Let’s not forget our newest states. After more than 50 years you might think we would now have them thoroughly integrated into our thinking. Just a few days ago I heard a weather person, Weather Channel I think, opine that the temperature in London was colder than anyplace in the US. That person did not say continental US or lower 48. I did not run to check this but I would be shocked to discover that it was colder in London than many places in Alaska.

    Relentless pumping of CO2 and other GHG’s into the atmosphere is disrupting the global climate, causing extreme weather across the globe, it is a global event, and we should expect good information on what is happening everywhere

  25. Peter Capen says:

    In reading of the plight of Oklahoma residents in the face of unrelenting drought and record heat, one cannot help but feel sorry for them. However, one’s empathy only goes so far when the citizens of Oklahoma continue to reelect Senator James Inhofe to Congress, a man who is infamous for his steadfast climate denial and who has nothing to offer his constituents by way of solutions to their plight beyone “praying for rain.” Apparently, God is either not listening to his flock, or the good citizens in Oklahoma are simply not “praying” hard enough for God to listen to their entreaties. But that is beside the point. Until the residents of Oklahoma start electing public officials who actually want to confront with realism and information the growing threat of a steadily warming planet and the dire implications it poses for the future, people have no one to blame but themselves for their misery. Continued denial of reality is a dead end.

  26. M Tucker says:

    Oklahoma is the reddest state in the Union. In the past presidential races every single county went red. But it isn’t just OK. The voters in the US have taken a hard right-turn. The opposition to big government action on climate change is in many many states. Even states that benefit from wind and solar jobs.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Those who the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.