MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 31, 2012

Region remains parched

4 area counties among hardest hit by long drought

— Although the last day of 2012 saw rain all day, most of the area finished the year woefully below average rainfalls as a drought continues.

And the National Weather Service predicts the drought may even worsen in 2013.

Muskogee, Cherokee, Wagoner and McIntosh counties are four of the counties worst hit by lack of rainfall in 2012, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

Muskogee County normally sees about 47 inches of rain a year. The county closed the year at about 32 inches, 15 inches short of normal.

Cherokee County, which normally sees about 51 inches of rain a year, ended the year with 32 inches in the areas that got the most rain and as little as 23 inches in some areas.

McIntosh County, with normally about 45 inches of rain, ended the year with at most 28 inches of rain.

And Wagoner County, which normally sees about 45 inches, got only about 25 inches in 2012.

The 2012 drought conditions weren’t any surprise to forecasters, farmers and cattle ranchers. And 2011 also saw drought — although Muskogee, Cherokee, Wagoner and McIntosh counties weren’t considered more than “abnormally dry” by the end of the year.

But 2012 brought severe drought to the area.

And its impact really falls on the consumers — not just in Oklahoma but across the country, said Mandy Blocker, extension educator Ag/4-H youth development at Oklahoma State University Extension Office in Muskogee.

“The new thing is natural and it costs a lot to produce grass-fed beef when there is no grass,” Blocker said. “For example, McDonald’s had a $1 burger that’s now gone up to $1.18.”

Prices could rise even more if the state’s highest-producing agricultural areas don’t get much-needed rain.

“I don’t know what it is going to be like in 2013, but I will tell farmers and ranchers to prepare for the worst,” Blocker said.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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