America

Oklahoma Facing Drought Comparable To Dust Bowl Days

A dry river bed at Big Bend National Park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, where it has not rained since September 2010. i i

A dry river bed at Big Bend National Park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, where it has not rained since September 2010. Mike Grazcyk/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mike Grazcyk/AP
A dry river bed at Big Bend National Park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, where it has not rained since September 2010.

A dry river bed at Big Bend National Park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, where it has not rained since September 2010.

Mike Grazcyk/AP

The four months since Thanksgiving have been the driest period in Oklahoma since 1921. The AP reports that's about as dry as it got in the 1930s when the state became known as the Dust Bowl and drought and high winds removed the top soil from the land.

The AP adds that fires haven't been as costly the ones caused by drought in 2009, but this year the pain will be incurred by wheat farmers:

Paul Fruendt said he's been farming for 25 years and he's never seen such bad growing conditions. His farm in Guthrie in central Oklahoma got a little rain, but he said his crops will still probably run out of water within a few weeks.

"For us already, we're going to suffer," said Fruendt, who invested about $100,000 in his wheat. "Probably two-thirds of our gross income has been wiped out for the next six months."

Drought is also hitting Texas hard. 40 percent of the state is now covered by extreme drought and some ranchers in West Texas haven't seen rain since early fall. The AP reported on the situation yesterday:

The area considered in an extreme drought has tripled in the past month, and weather forecasters expect the drought to continue or get worse through June in most of the state. That means the danger of fire will remain extremely high, National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said.

"This could end up being one of the more devastating droughts, agriculturally speaking and for wildfires, if we don't start getting normal to above normal rainfall before June," Murphy said. "The odds of seeing that are likely below normal."

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