By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The next five to six weeks will be crucial in determining what type of summer Oklahoma will face in 2014, according to climate experts.
Rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning was a welcome respite for gardeners, farmers and landscapers who depend on April and May showers to green things up, but it was not enough.
Around Norman, rainfall accumulations were less than an inch, measuring 0.21 inches to 0.6 inches in various parts of the city. Oklahoma City fared better — Will Rogers World Airport registered 1.17 inches and Wiley Post Airport measured 2.47 inches of rain.
“We’re not in drought, but April and May are usually our wet months, and this modest amount of rain we had is not going to carry us through summer,” National Weather Services forecaster Daryl Williams said. “July and August are usually our driest months, so if we’re going to get rain, we need to do it in the next month or so.”
There is hope for more rainfall in the next few days.
“It looked better a couple of days ago than it does right now, but we can’t rule out rain,” Williams said.
He said there’s a slight chance of rain Saturday and Saturday night and the chance for significant rainfall late Sunday afternoon into Sunday night.
According to what weather experts call the “30-year normal,” the Oklahoma City metro area is six inches behind normal rainfall so far this year. Last year, the area was running ahead of normal.
There have been other weather oddities this year.
“We looked at data from the Oklahoma Mesonet, and we looked at different stations around the state, and this year has been windier than normal,” said Gary McManus, with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. “That’s why we’ve had so many days with extreme fire conditions.”
McManus said rain typically shuts off in mid-June, and Oklahoma gets hot. When the soil is moist, the summer sun heats the soil, creating evaporation, which is a cooling process. Without soil moisture, the intense summer sun bakes the earth.
“The science really can’t tell us yet what to expect this summer,” McManus said. “It all depends on the next five to six weeks.”
Right now, Lake Thunderbird is at a normal level. It’s harder for most people to gauge what is going on below ground with the soil moisture content.
“If we continue in this dry pattern and we go into this summer with a drought in place, we might be in for one of these scorchers,” McManus said. “It could be a real(ly) unfortunate situation for Norman and the surrounding area.”
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