The Norman Transcript

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December 29, 2012

Snowfall, rain not the same in inches

NORMAN — As the director of water resources for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, John Harrington is well aware of the value of water and the serious threat continued drought conditions bring to central Oklahoma.

“Snow doesn’t translate to a lot of rain, but it still is better than nothing,” Harrington said in his drought report this week. “Rain is also in the forecast now for next Monday, so we are finally seeing some changes to the rather monotonous and unseasonal warm we had earlier this month.”

While the precipitation has been badly needed, inches of snow, because it is frozen, does not equal the same inches of rain.

“A common ratio people use is 10 to one, so 10 inches of snow equals one inch of rain,” said Ken Gallant, National Weather Service meteorologist. “That’s a good ratio for a good part of the country.”

Harrington reports 2011 and 2012 have been two very dry years.

“Together, the two year span may be on the top five driest on record — the Oklahoma Climatological Survey points to the Hooker Mesonet site which has recorded only 19 inches of rain in the last 24 months.”

Harrington quotes Benjamin Franklin: “No one knows the value of water until the well goes dry.”

The seasonal drought outlook produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows drought in Oklahoma and across the Midwest and central United States as persisting and possibly intensifying though March 31.

While streamflow remains normal at Little River the Canadian River measurements are “much below normal” according to measurements taken by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Water conservation storage as reported by ACOG continues to decrease. Lake Hefner and Lake Overholser are terminal storage for Canton Lake. Lake Draper is terminal storage for McGee Creek and Atoka Lakes. All of those sources have decreased in the last week.

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