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Summer 2012 Almost Here

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The summer solstice occurs on Wednesday June 20th, and as luck would have it Oklahoma will be experiencing its hottest temperatures so far in 2012 this weekend. The silver lining in that forecast is the fact that we are expecting highs in the 90s rather than triple digits primarily. So, what is so different about this year compared to last year? As you might have guessed, it's the rain. But, the timeliness of the rain is often equally if not more important than the amount.

The record-breaking heat of 2011 is in our rear view mirror, but understanding what caused that heat wave helps explain why it was so abnormal. The summer of 2011 was officially the hottest on record. Oklahoma City endured an astounding 63 days of high temperatures greater than or equal to 100 degrees. The U.S. Drought Monitor map as of June 14, 2011 illustrated that almost 42% of the state was under Severe to Exceptional Drought. The same map this year: 10.5%. In fact some areas of the state have received as much as 150% of the normal rainfall for the time period between October 1, 2011 and June 13, 2012 making it the 36th wettest in the last 99 years. Meanwhile, if you look back 1 year ago at the same time period you would find the 6th driest since 1921.

Hopefully we will continue to get occasional rain throughout the summer months so that drought conditions do not take hold once again. The 2 regions of Oklahoma that are still experiencing some level of drought are far western Oklahoma (particularly the panhandle) and Southeast Oklahoma. A word of caution, droughts occur on varying time scales, and intense short-term droughts during the summer months can lead to big problems. The best thing we can hope for is more rain scattered throughout the entire summer rather than just one or two very wet days separated by weeks of dryness.

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