Oklahoma Drought Now Far Worse Than When Gov. Mary Falin Asked All Oklahomans to Pray for Rain

In light of the sustained drought, Governor Mary Fallin today asked all Oklahomans to set aside time this Sunday, July 17, to pray for rain.

That was two week ago. The result is that Oklahoma went from the drought condition below on the right below to the one on the left in just two short weeks:

Yes, in a mere two weeks, another 30% of the state went into extreme or exceptional drought! Now the entire state is under severe drought or worse.

For some reason, science-denying southern Republican governors keep returning to one particular ineffectual ‘adaptation’ strategy: “Texas Drought Now Far, Far Worse Than When Gov. Rick Perry Issued Proclamation Calling on All Texans to Pray for Rain“ (7/15/11).


And speaking of Gov. Perry, who apparently is edging closer and closer to a presidential run, his state has been utterly devastated since his proclamation. Texas A&M reports:

As Texas continues to bake in record heat, the drought news for the state continues to be bleak — Texas is now in the midst of its most severe one-year drought on record, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University….

Nielsen-Gammon explains [,] “Never before has so little rain been recorded prior to and during the primary growing season for crops, plants and warm-season grasses.”

The Texas drought monitor is as shockingly blood-red as its reservoirs:

Of course, we don’t really have any short-term strategies to address extreme weather. In the longer term, prayer would appear to be a non-optimal approach, given Texas’s and Oklahoma’s experience.

The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said

Sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, however, would seem our best hope of sharply reducing the prospects that the Southwest becomes a permanent dust bowl. It also has the benefit of science underpinning it.

Related Posts:

“the climate change that is taking place because of increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop”. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450–600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the “dust bowl” era

  • Back in October, the National Center for Atmospheric Research published a complete literature review, “Drought under global warming: a review,” (See NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path). That study makes clear that Dust-Bowlification may be the impact of human-caused climate change that hits the most people by mid-century, as the figure below suggests (click to enlarge, “a reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought”):

The PDSI [Palmer Drought Severity Index] in the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl apparently spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely exceeded -3 for the decade (see here).

The National Center for Atmospheric Research notes “By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.”

Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

So is Senator Inhofe building any igloos in Oklahoma right now? Has anyone else noticed the deafening silence of climate change ridicule by him and his ilk lately? Perhaps the climate change Pearl Harbor many of us thought was necessary to wake people up is now happening in a limited way. Nahhh! There I go being hopeful again. But it does seem eerily appropriate that Oklahoma, home to one of the most vocal deniers, would be one of the worst hit by the heat and drought predicted by climate scientists. My sympathies to the individuals living there, especially the ones who voted against him.

8 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 8:57pm

Roger Anderson · Top Commenter · University of Nha Trang

The problem is ranching which is an important part of both states. It’s doesn’t take a genius to see the politicians have found a way to herd their voters using the bible as a cattle prod. They’ve accomplished that because they’ve managed to dumb down the population. Just compare both states with say the New-England states and you’ll see what I mean. However, if I were inhofe I’d be careful the people don’t turn on him and the koch brothers for their denial stance which probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyway. I do know I wouldn’t allow a penny of federal aid to either state, rather I’d tell them to get it from the koch and the oil companies.By the way try finding mention of global climate change in any of their newspapers, and you’ll see how deep the koch boys have claws into the main stream media.

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 7 at 11:10am

Robert Finne

Worst drought in their history yet drilling for natural gas is at an all time high in Oklahoma and Texas. Besides the million gallons of fresh water to drill the hole, they will also use between 3 and 15 million gallons to hydraulically fracture the well.This water is gone! After use its toxic waste.

We are in a gas glut and water poor but drilling continues unabated.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 7 at 11:47am

Morgan Sheridan · Top Commenter

Priorities are really skewed when water for life is given to the gas companies for fracking in places like OK and TX. Pity.

Like · Reply · August 7 at 1:54pm

Denise Parkinson · Hot Springs, Arkansas

like the old blues song says, you never miss your water til your well runs dry

Like · Reply · August 7 at 2:19pm

Matt Jones · Top Commenter · The Ohio State University

Y’know, if I was the sort to believe in an angry invisible man in the sky who controls the weather, I’d be thinking REAL hard about why he might be mad right now. It couldn’t POSSIBLY have anything to do with all the hate being spread in his name, right? 😉

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 8:27pm

Scott Callaway

Texas Exceptionalism, currently only 73.49%.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 9:52pm

Dave Sills · California State University, Sacramento

Does this mean that prayer leads to drought?

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 7:54pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

A prayer for Inhofe and his gang….

Like · Reply · August 5 at 2:17am

  • andrewsdanielj (signed in using Yahoo)

Don’t know…but drought certainly leads to prayer although I’d suggest U.S. citizens vote for someone that God actually listens to. 🙂

2 · Like · Reply · August 5 at 3:01pm

Tom Gray · Top Commenter · Haverford College

@Dave, yes, that is perilous ground — I don’t think the worsening of the drought can be ascribed to the governor’s plea.

1 · Like · Reply · August 6 at 4:53pm

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oflibertysons (signed in using Yahoo)

What this map says to us is: “Go North, young man, go north.”

Eminent climate scientist James Lovelock of the UK thinks man will survive, in much smaller numbers than current world population, only in polar regions.

Lovelock has the annoying habit of first being scoffed, then being recognized as prescient.…See More

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 9:21pm

John Borrego · Rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, Guthrie, OK

Nice to know that my county (Logan) has moved from a mere “extreme” drought condition to “exceptional.” Brown lawns, dead shrubbery, wilting large trees, dry ponds in the parks. Horrible.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 6:43pm

Melody Kellogg · Works at Ministries of Jesus

Yes, but…did you notice it rained right after she asked us to pray?!

Like · Reply · August 4 at 9:54pm

Helen Waddle

It was reported on the news today that Oklahoma got a total of 15 minutes of rain yesterday that evaporated before it actually did any good… ; (

1 · Like · Reply · August 4 at 10:49pm

Tom Gray · Top Commenter · Haverford College

@Melody, one saying I heard a lot as a child is, “The Lord helps those that help themselves,” and I have a suspicion it applies here.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 4:44pm

Jeffrey Davis · Top Commenter

When you play Horse or pool and call an exceptional shot, you’re given credit for great skill. Yet, computer models for AGW have “called” the drought. And nada.


I really don’t understand the deniers’ endgame here. They’re wrong. They know they’re wrong. What could they possibly imagine will be the upshot? Physics will suddenly change? Aliens will arrive?

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 8:16am

Morgan Sheridan · Top Commenter

Their end-game is “dominion” over the earth and the lives of people on it. They want the end of the world, so pillaging from the earth past it’s ability to sustain itself and recover is right up their alley. They do. not. care. In the mean time, they will enjoy and profit handsomely from their pillaging.

1 · Like · Reply · August 7 at 2:00pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

‘Climate inequity’ is that the future? John Borrego below and a record high at Dallas today.

Here in the northeast pleasant summer weather. My heart goes out to John.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 7:56pm

Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter

It is clearly all Spongebob’s fault. He absorbed all the water so there is nothing left for rain.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 8:26am

Richard Brenne · Top Commenter · UCLA

How about a day of prayer to honor, respect and re-implement the separation of church and state so essential to our nation’s Founders?


It is often said that a people get the leaders they deserve. Electing climate change deniers Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe and Texas Governor Rick Perry over a dozen times to date, those who voted for both are getting the climate they deserve.

Inhofe’s taken his pro-torture stance (his main statement about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse was that he was “outraged by the outrage”) to include his sweltering constituents.…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 10:47pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The overnight heat records pouring in are not located in the big cities. There are some of the them popping up of course, but the All-Time min. High records are coming from places like Ordway, Colorado and………….HOPE 3 NE HEMPSTEAD Co, AR 101 years in the record 84.0°F 2011–08–04 82.0°F 1920–07–02.CLEARWATER DAM WAYNECo. MO 66 years in the record 78.0°F 2011–08–04 77.0°F 2010–08–15. — — — — — -The concrete in the cities has every BTU it can hold. All the All Time night time numbers are coming from little burgs in the country.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 10:33pm

Tom Gray · Top Commenter · Haverford College

Interesting observation, thanks.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 4:41pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The first atomic device used in anger was dropped 66 years ago this month.The B-29 that dropped it cost more than the bomb program. That’s right the B-29 program cost more than the bomb program. They were sold as a pair.

There was smoking wreckage at the end of the run way , when Enola Gay rolled for take-off.Those B-29’s were heavy leaving for Japan, every drop of gas they could put in.…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 12:49am

Jerry Rosen · Case Western Reserve University


Like · Reply · August 8 at 12:23am

Andrew Fritz · Graphic Design/Marketing at Runners Forum

I wish, for once, that when discussing Global Climate Change and when presenting scientific evidence that onlookers would also describe the condition of the heart as the cause of much of our Earth’s issues. A heart that is content has no need to consume more than is necessary. A heart that is full of God’s love is more likely to view everything as a gift rather than an entitlement. Etc., etc.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 9:16am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The daily dot map is amazing for yesterday -Out of a possible 5,606 records: 214 (Broken) + 81 (Tied) = 295 Total. · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 10:03pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Here’s the most interesting daily max high record from yesterday:MAUNA LOA SLOPE OBS 39 HAWAII HI 19.54 -155.58 516198 COOP 51 65.0°F 2011–08–03 65.0°F 2000–08–03. — — — — — — -I don’t know the altitude here , but I got 5 Bucks it’s really high.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 10:07pm

Timothy Hughbanks · Top Commenter · Professor at Texas A&M University

My county (Brazos) has been in exceptional drought condition for four months: the April 5th map.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 9:43pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The average temp for the last 24 hours in Dallas was 97F.Another new record for this measurement.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 4 at 10:38pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

A prayer for prayer….

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 2:00am

Brad Mosman

Here in Oklahoma we’re told that the current drought rivals the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Carbon emissions were much less in that decade than now, yet the drought was worse. I lived in the Texas Panhandle in the 1950’s during the supposed worse Texas drought ever. Awful dust storms. Still, fewer emissions. I’ve also read that in 200 years leading up to 1000 AD, global warming allowed Greenland to be populated and corn to be raised as far north as Norway. We also hear the earth’s axis is shifting. In short, the media will keep talking whether or not science can make up its mind.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 12:13pm

candysport (signed in using Yahoo)

fracking for natural gas that is only going to china should be stopped to conserve water. there are less water heavy methods for the oversubsidized industry to use.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 9 at 1:50pm

candysport (signed in using Yahoo)

praying to ease the drought can only help. enacting stricter irrigation rules, community conservation methods, and prayer are all good ideas.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 9 at 1:48pm

Byron Lightweaver · Top Commenter · Berkeley, California

God obviously has a funny sense of humor. Obviously the southern republicans cannot conceive of the fact that they are experiencing irony at biblical proportions.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 7 at 2:45pm

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

I’m sure that the collected economists are telling Oklahoma politicians that the state can substitute selling industrial grit and clean sand for it’s usual crops of wheat, corn, hay and beef.

I’m not sure what the markets are going to substitue for free water that falls from the sky though.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 1:19pm

Patricia Shannon · Atlanta, Georgia

Typo correction: It would be better to have the earlier map on the left, as is usual. It would make it less likely to be misread.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 7 at 2:15pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

Severe to extreme drought spread to southern and western Arkansas. · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 9:22pm

Duncan Earle · Los Angeles, California

I fear the frog in the beeker effect — the damage is too slow for the lazy, and easy to “pray away” worry — especially with no historical memory.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 4:52pm

Chotsi DeClue · Norman, Oklahoma

sometimes I feel sorry for myself having to live in the same state with Imhofe…Chotsi.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 6:36pm

Pete Mason

Prayer not working.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 10:05pm

Brad Mosman

What would be a truly great ecological catastrophe? Say, paving over hundreds of square miles of pristine forest in New England. Gee, I’ve just described New York City. Add 10 million gaseous new yorkers and you have the New England version of a Kansas feed lot.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 12:24pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

La Nina or neutral ENSO conditions are expected to continue. Climate Prediction Center seasonal predictions show hotter than normal temperatures expected in the Texas _ New Mexico _Oklahoma region through late summer 2012, more than a year of exceptional heat. · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 9:19pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

“Exceptional” in the ordinary meaning, though the drought is also technically exceptional.

Like · Reply · August 5 at 9:21pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

From Tony Barnston of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), part of Columbia’s Earth Institute, statement re-published February 7, 2011.“Last year’s transition from El Niño to La Niña was about the most sudden we’ve ever had,” Barnston said. “When we had rapid flips like this in the past, we sometimes ended up having a two-year La Niña, such as right after the El Niño episodes of 1972 to 1973 and 1997 to 1998.” · Reply · August 6 at 7:49pm

Enrique Melendez · Florida State University

Is it possible to pray to Jesus and believe in sciences in Oklahoma and Texas?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 5 at 7:18pm