MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 22, 2014

Drought conditions improve slightly after rains

GRANDFIELD — Recent rains are bringing slight relief, and some hope, to those in drought-stricken southwestern Oklahoma.

“We’re a long way from being out of a drought, but things are looking better,” farmer and rancher Terral Tatum near Grandfield told The Oklahoman after three inches of rain in the past 30 days was enough for his cotton crop to germinate and put enough water in his ponds to support his cattle through the summer.

“It is better,” he said. “Not great, but it is better.”

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows about 48 percent of the state is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought — the report’s two most severe categories — down from 61 percent on May 20. Several rounds of rain that began with a storm system in the state May 21 brought moisture to areas of Oklahoma that are in deepest drought — especially southwestern Oklahoma.

“We’re definitely in better shape than we were before May 21,” state climatologist Gary McManus said.

Tatum is in his fourth year of trying to raise cattle and keep his crops alive in drought conditions. In early May, he was worried there wouldn’t be enough water in his ponds to get his cattle through the summer. On Friday, Tatum said the rain filled some of his ponds.

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