Aug 9, 2019

A Flash Drought is Now Developing in Parts of Texas and Oklahoma After One of the Wettest Springs on Record

Oklahoma
USA
by
Jonathan Erdman
,
The Weather Channel
Drought monitor analyses showing the expansion of drought, highlighted by the white arrows, over parts of Texas and Oklahoma from July 23 to August 6, 2019. Image: USDA, NDMC, NOAA
Drought monitor analyses showing the expansion of drought, highlighted by the white arrows, over parts of Texas and Oklahoma from July 23 to August 6, 2019. Image: USDA, NDMC, NOAA
  • Parts of Oklahoma and Texas are now in drought.
  • This drought has developed rapidly enough to be considered a flash drought.
  • Some locations had one of their driest Julys on record, sending topsoil moisture plummeting.
  • An ongoing heat wave, and typical August heat, may worsen the drought.
  • This follows one of the wettest springs on record.

...

You may think of droughts as slowly-evolving weather phenomena.

But some droughts, known as flash droughts, can develop much faster, on the order of weeks to a few months rather than years, leaving less time to prepare for impacts such as crop losses, reductions in water supply and increased wildfire risk.

Jason Otkin, a drought researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he uses at least a two-category worsening in the Drought Monitor over a four-week period or a three-category intensification over an eight-week period, as criteria for a flash drought.

"This region is very susceptible to flash droughts given its location on the east-west transition zone between more arid conditions to the west and the more moist climate to the east," Otkin said.