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drought

One of Congress' most vocal skeptics of climate change is backing a measure saying it is real and not a hoax — but says it's arrogance to believe human beings are causing it.

In a surprise move, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined an effort Wednesday by Democrats to get the GOP on the record about climate science. The Republican-controlled Senate backed the non-binding measure 98-1 Wednesday. It reads, "Climate change is real and not a hoax."

Many Republicans deny the science or say they don't have the expertise to form an opinion. Inhofe said Wednesday he doesn't buy what most scientists accept — that the burning of fossil fuels from human activities is to blame.

The December 30, 2014 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor for Oklahoma.
U.S. Drought Monitor

The drought in southwest Oklahoma has lingered for more than four years now, and it will take more than a wet end to 2014 to stop it — a lot more.

Despite receiving above average December precipitation, the City of Duncan will ban all outdoor watering beginning next week. That’s because water levels in Waurika Lake, Duncan’s only current drinking water source, continue to drop.

Lisa Davis (right) with the advocacy group Save Lake Texoma near the Rooster Creek Bridge at Lake Texoma State Park.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

It's a new year in Oklahoma, but the same old drought is still here.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says Oklahoma's lingering drought barely budged for the second consecutive week.

The report says about 62 percent of the state remains in drought. The Oklahoman reports that nearly 22 percent of Oklahoma was listed in extreme or exceptional drought.

The drought's worst effects are in southwestern and western Oklahoma. Many of those areas have been in drought since October 2010.

Vicki / Flickr.com

The U.S. Drought Monitor says almost 1.5 million Oklahomans are being affected by drought.

In the past month, the percentage of Oklahoma classified as being in exceptional drought has increased slightly from about 5 percent to almost 6 percent. Most of the areas experiencing exceptional drought are in the southwest corner of the state with a small area in northern Ellis County.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board on Tuesday unanimously approved the terms of a plan to further study the Upper Red River Basin as part of the Water SMART Basin Studies Program.

The study, which has an estimated cost of approximately $1.4 million, will help Oklahoma’s southwest corner find ways to best conserve and manage the water they draw from the Upper Red River Basin. Southwest Oklahoma, Planning and Management Division Chief Julie Cunningham said, has been the region most affected by recent drought conditions in the state.

cows
SoonerPA / Flickr Creative Commons

The ongoing drought in Oklahoma affects everyone in the country. Well, everyone who likes to eat beef, that is. Beef and veal prices will have risen by about 11.5 percent in 2014, and, as Reuters reports, “will increase significantly again in 2015″ because of drought in the Southern Plains.

Al Jazeera English / Flickr.com

Small businesses in 12 Oklahoma counties and two counties in Kansas have one month left to apply for U.S. Small Business Administration drought disaster loans.

Tanya N. Garfield, director of the SBA program, says businesses have until Jan. 14 to seek a federal disaster loan for economic injury.

Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department

The board that oversees the water distribution of Waurika Lake says drought conditions continue to affect the lake, which is used as a water source in southwest Oklahoma.

Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District Director David Taylor says the Waurika Lake watershed has received just 14.7 inches of rain this year. According to the Lawton Constitution, Taylor estimates that the lake has enough usable water to last until March 2016.

Taylor says rehabilitation and maintenance work to the lake could increase that time to January 2017.

Pennie Embrey / Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy

Members of the House Utility and Environmental Regulation Committee heard outlines Tuesday of different ways to address Oklahoma’s water needs.

Oklahoma Water Resource Board Executive Director J.D. Strong and Deputy Secretary of Environment Tyler Howell suggested a broadly based approach, while former OWRB Executive Director and Environmental Federation of Oklahoma President Jim Barnett told committee members greater infrastructure spending should be considered, but not at the exclusion of other ideas such as conservation and reuse.

Tall Chief Cove at Skiatook Lake.
Wikimedia Commons

A lake in northeastern Oklahoma has dipped to its shallowest level since its impoundment 30 years ago.

Sara Goodeyon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells the Tulsa World that Skiatook Lake had a level of about 698 feet on Friday. Despite recent rains, it's more than 15 feet below normal. The last time it was above the normal level of 714 feet was more than four years ago.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma wheat growers are calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement a Farm Bill provision they say would address the ongoing drought that's plagued the state and others for the past several years.

The new provision allows farmers to maintain enough crop insurance to cover expected production in exchange for paying a higher premium to cover any additional liability. The provision will change how farmers make the estimate of their expected production.

Cattle at the Oklahoma City Stockyards.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

On Wednesday Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus released figures showing it's been a dry September. Oklahoma only averaged 2.6 inches of rainfall, which is roughly 33 percent below normal.

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A drier than normal September has diminished drought recovery in Oklahoma, and weather experts say the dry pattern will continue through October.

Preliminary figures from the Oklahoma Mesonet show the statewide average rainfall total was 2.6 inches — 1.3 inches below normal and the 46th driest September since record-keeping began in 1895.

August and September combined for a statewide average of 3.9 inches — 2.6 inches below normal and the 22nd driest August-September period on record.

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

An environmental researcher says Oklahoma could benefit by learning how developing countries address water security issues as demand grows and scientists warn of drier years ahead.

The Oklahoman reports that Jim Chamberlain, staff researcher at the University of Oklahoma's Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center, spoke Friday at the center's annual Water Symposium.

Chamberlain says the water situation in Oklahoma has more in common with that in the developing world than might be obvious.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Insufficient rains and increasing demand put enormous pressure on Oklahoma’s water resources both on the surface and underground. But it’s also hard to overstate the role evaporation plays in the drought.

The oil and gas industry has been part of the problem, storing tens of millions of gallons of water needed for the hydraulic fracturing process in large, open pits, leaving it to be ravaged by evaporation until the water is needed.

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