The action to move into Stage 4: Drought Disaster has reached outside of Texoma. The National Weather Service Office in Norman, OK held a special drought webinar today. The office is responsible for forecasting for 8 counties in Texas, which includes Wichita County, so they're familiar with our drought situation.
NWS Meteorologist Bruce Thoren said "Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas are in exceptional to extreme drought."
Less than a percent of the United States is listed as under exceptional drought. Exceptional drought is the worst drought condition on United States Drought Monitor's scale, and it doesn't look like things are going to get better.
Thoren said parts of west Texas have a better chance of seeing below average precipitation over the next 90 days.
Thoren then went on to talk about what's actually causing the drought. Ocean surface temperatures are playing a role in it. If the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation are positive (warmer temperatures) or negative (cooler temperatures) can give us a wetter or drier climate.
"The current configuration is a negative phase of the PDO and warm phase of the [AMO]...and in Texas there is more of a tendency to have more frequent droughts," said Thoren.
A positive PDA and a negative AMO would give us a better chance for a wetter climate. Unfortunately, things might not change for awhile. The PDO only shifts once every 20 to 30 years. However, Thoren said the oscillations don't explain everything. They can't explain why Oklahoma City has seen so much more rain than Wichita Falls this year.
Eventually its going to rain and when it does it's going to really rain. History shows us that it usually takes a flood to end a drought.
Thoren said a tropical system has the best chance of bringing us the rain we need to fill our lakes and to end the drought.