The Norman Transcript


July 21, 2013

Despite rainfall, drought continues across Oklahoma



The lingering drought is proving a tough battle for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, who have seen crops die in the fields and have been forced to thin their cattle herds because of decimated pastures and shriveling farm ponds. The ripple effects of the drought also are stretching into rural communities in western Oklahoma as farms hire fewer workers and spend less money in the local economy.

“This will be the third year in a row that we’ve missed a cotton crop,” said Tom Buchanan, who produces cotton and wheat and runs a herd of cattle in Jackson County in southwest Oklahoma. “Because we are missing a crop, we don’t require the amount of labor we normally do.”

While Buchanan acknowledged most Oklahoma farmers are eternal optimists and a good rain will eventually lead to bumper crops, he’s most concerned about the long-term effect on cattle herds across western Oklahoma and the Panhandle.

“What Oklahoma is going to continue to suffer from the agricultural standpoint is the cow herd that’s been decimated by this drought,” he said. “That cow herd won’t be built back up overnight.

“There’s just no water left out here for the cattle. Ponds have dried up, creeks have dried up, and well water is becoming not reliable as it was.”

Water sources, both underground water tables and ponds and lakes in western Oklahoma, have been particularly hard hit by consecutive years of drought.

For years, state Rep. Don Armes spent time in the summer cooking out and watching folks boat and water ski at a flood control reservoir near Chattanooga.

“You can walk clear across that lake right now,” said Armes, R-Faxon. That was a pretty decent lake. Now, it’s just totally gone.”

At Canton Lake in northwest Oklahoma, the president of the local lake association is concerned the lake is dying after Oklahoma City officials in January began diverting billions of gallons to Lake Hefner to replenish the drinking water supply for about 1.2 million people in the metro area.

Canton Lake Association President Jeff Converse says he recently saw dead fish in the lake and believes conditions will only get worse as the summer heats up.


Sean Murphy can be reached at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Christie set to visit state for fundraiser

    OKLAHOMA CITY — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is planning a return trip to Oklahoma after a December ice storm forced him to cancel a scheduled appearance with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin....

    July 30, 2014

  • Cool snap brings heat relief to Oklahoma, Arkansas

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The dog days of summer are coming in with a whimper. Weather forecasters say a cold front headed for Oklahoma and Arkansas will bring unseasonably cool temperatures and a chance of rain through next week....

    July 29, 2014

  • FBI defends search for Oklahoma City bombing video

    SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI thoroughly searched its archives and found no evidence that more videos of the Oklahoma City bombing exist, agency employees told a judge Monday in a trial that has rekindled questions about whether any others were ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Health officials prepare for flu

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a flu season in which a record number of Oklahomans died as a result of the virus, state and county health officials say educating the public and general common sense are vital to reducing both the death rate and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Scam targets migrants

    HOUSTON — Scammers have been preying on the relatives of unaccompanied young migrants being held at two U.S. military bases by conning them into paying nonexistent fees to be reunited with their loved ones, officials said....

    July 27, 2014

  • Trial delayed for man in murder case

    DUNCAN — The first-degree murder trial of a Velma man charged with killing a 16-year-old girl has been delayed until January....

    July 27, 2014

  • Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

    OKLAHOMA CITY — One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What some consider a far-flung ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Man found dead outside Tulsa home

    TULSA — Police in Tulsa are investigating the death of a man whose body was found outside a house on the city’s north side....

    July 27, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014