The drought is expected to persist and possibly intensify in Oklahoma through the winter, and the state could see more extreme records for 2011, Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus said Thursday.


The drought is expected to persist and possibly intensify in Oklahoma through the winter, and the state could see more extreme records for 2011, Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus said Thursday.

The La Niña climate phenomenon could cause more below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures for the winter months and into spring, McManus said. However, the weather extremes the state saw last year during the La Niña winter are possible this year even during a warmer and drier-than- average winter season.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t flood. I think in the overall sense it’s not a great forecast,” Meteorologist for the National Weather Service Ty Judd said. “What we really need are about four of these last rainstorms that we had a few weeks ago.”

There is up to a 40 percent chance of rain in the area tonight, but it will not be enough to alleviate drought conditions, although any amount helps. Oklahoma needs well over a foot of rain to climb out of the drought, Judd said.

The forecast for the Shawnee area will waffle up and down and dance around the averages for the next week, according to the forecast.

This past week the state dipped below freezing for the first time this season. Shawnee dipped just below freezing Wednesday night, though the average freeze usually comes to Pottawatomie County Nov. 2.

Temperatures for the first of the week will be above average and then will dip down below average after a storm front moves in around Tuesday night and will remain until Wednesday night. The storm system next week will be similar to the last one the last one the state had, which produced more than four inches of rain in Oklahoma City and more than two in Pottawatomie County.

Sunday will see temperatures in the upper 70s. Monday and Tuesday the highs will be in the mid 80s but will drop into the lower 60s and get colder on Thursday, Judd said.

“This front may be a little bit colder than the last one but nothing that is out of the ordinary for October,” he said.

The lows for the week will be in the 60s on Sunday and Monday and then dip down to the 50s during the cold front.

Last year during the La Niña winter the state saw records of 27-inch snowfalls in 24-hours at Spavinaw and 31 degrees below zero at Nowata, McManus said.

Oklahoma has seen mixed relief from the drought this month with above normal moisture in the western half of Oklahoma and below normal in the eastern half. The drier and warmer winter forecast comes just as Oklahoma enters into its driest time of the year.

Some residents are concerned about the effect of a drier and warmer winter on the city’s water supply.

“My main concern is the impact a drier warmer winter will have on the lake level. If we also end up having a dry spring,” Shawnee resident Linda Agee said. “Will there be enough water during the peak time to carry the city through the summer with sufficient water supply ... if we have a prolonged drought through the winter.”

Agee lives by Shawnee Twin Lakes and is worried about the already low water level there because Shawnee gets there water supply from Twin Lakes.