Is SWOK Entering Its Next Great Drought?
In my short life, I've lived through three major droughts. The first was a short but devastating one in 1988 & 1989. At that time, it was the costliest natural disaster to strike America since the great depression, costing the ag industry some $40billion. There was another short drought that lasted from mid-2005 through early 2007. Not as costly as the late-80's event, but still devastating to our region. Depending on how long you've lived in Lawton, you may or may not remember the last great drought from 2010 to 2015. It was five full years of little to no rain. Lakes dried up, water availability became a real concern, Wichita Falls even had a short lived "Rain Seeding" program where they would dump contaminants into the atmosphere from a plane to encourage rain clouds to develop. It didn't work. That drought came to an end in the most awe-inspiring way.
It was May of 2015 when the rains finally came, and it poured down in curtains twice as many days as it didn't fall that month. It was the year I'd seen the Central Mall completely flood. Cars floating in the parking lot, stored with inches of water throughout, it was enough to make people wish it would stop. That Memorial Day Weekend, so much rain fell across the entire state, I remember Critter and I had to wait a few days to make our way home from Rocklahoma that year. You couldn't even get to Lawton the flood waters were so high on the every highway in and out. If you lived here, you couldn't get from East Lawton to Normal Lawton for a few days while the creeks were flooded. It really was a crazy time. I wasn't even able to mow my lawn for the first time until July 3rd. I remember because I made a video of it and put it on YouTube. In the span of about eight weeks, a record long and dry drought came to a very moist end, and we've been pretty well off since then... but the drought trend is creeping back in this Spring.
Almost half of Oklahoma is now listed "Abnormally Dry." Almost 25% of the state is now included in the "Moderate Drought" category, and way down in South Central OK, a small percentage of three counties is considered to be in "Severe Drought" status. The last few years, we've seen dry areas of the state. It creeps in during the winter months but usually catches a break by mid-spring. It's not all bad though. While droughts are rough on agriculture and livestock, the arid lack of humidity makes the high heat more tolerable. If this is your first year in Oklahoma, buckle up. It's gonna be one of two things... Hot and oppressively humid, or oppressively hotter and lip-chapping dry.
ALSO SEE: 30 Most Decade-Defining Memes