Oklahoma Is A Top-5 Most Wildfire Prone State in 2022
How many times have you opened up your Facebook feed this year to either ask or tell the masses about the smoke you see in the distance?
Whether the plains were set ablaze naturally by lightning, which has been a very common thing this year, or by the errant actions of some people, volunteer fire crews all over this state have fought an uphill battle all summer long. We've had so much fire activity during this drought that Oklahoma placed fourth on the list of most wildfire acreage lost so far, and there's no real end in sight just yet.
Even though temperatures are back to normal for the moment, it's still very dry across the state. Especially so here in the southwest portion. Sure, it rained a little last week in some spots and I'll be forced to mow my lawn soon for the first time since June, what little rain we've had isn't nearly enough to abate the continuing fire danger.
If you're saying to yourself "Well, there's rain in the forecast," the forecast hasn't exactly been on-point during this unprecedented time of dry heat. They'll call for a daily temp of 102°, it'll cap out somewhere near 106°... A call for rain ends up with a few sprinkles. In fact, last week's thunderstorm was so isolated that the swath of Lawton that saw big rain was only a few square blocks wide. I had a little over two inches in my backyard rain gauge, the airport recorded just under two-tenths.
This weather has been crazy, but with every deep drought comes the eventual relief.
The last big drought this part of the country experienced started back in 2010-2011. It was really hot, really dry, and it lingered on for a few years. It was so dry that Wichita Falls even invested in a depression-era idea to control the weather by "seeding" clouds in the hope it would create rains... Spoiler, 90 years of trying, still no conclusive evidence that it works, but the promise of hope is alluring to those that are desperate.
Since Oklahoma is a state of weather extremes, it's not shocking the last drought ended as abruptly as it started. When the rains finally returned in the spring of 2015, it started raining in March and didn't quit until July making it officially the wettest year on record to date. Summers have been reasonably mild since then until 2022.
This was the drought in the first week of July 2022.
This is the drought currently, only six weeks later.
The rain in the forecast has the potential to ease conditions back to a point of lesser wildfire danger, but in a big ironic way, if the storms are big enough, they could reignite the land around us and put our volunteer fire crews back in harm's way.