Burn ban continues across Oklahoma despite rainfall
BY ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer
Friday, August 12, 2011
8/12/11 at 7:17 AM
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Life on the D-list - as in drought list - and a statewide burn ban continues, despite recent rainfalls across the state, including the Tulsa area.
The U.S. Drought Monitor released drought classifications Thursday, which continued to classify most of the state as D4 for exceptional drought, and most of Tulsa County as D3, for extreme drought.
Gary McManus, an associate state climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said the classifications are determined by Tuesday each week, meaning that Tulsa's 3-plus inches of rainfall from Wednesday was not counted for this D3 classification.
"A smaller amount doesn't make that much difference," McManus said, noting the recent months of below-average rainfall for the Tulsa area and statewide.
However, with the constant precipitation the area recently received, including four-straight days of rainfall recorded as of Thursday, McManus said next week's drought classification should fall for the Tulsa area, but other areas won't be as lucky.
"This is an excellent start for northeast Oklahoma," McManus said. "Unfortunately, that was the only place in the state that really received good rain for drought relief."
The statewide burn ban that was declared Aug. 3 also continues despite the rain relief, with no discussions yet to end the ban, said Oklahoma Forestry Services communications specialist Michelle Finch-Walker.
"It's going to take us sustained rain over several days to get us out of this," Finch-Walker said.
Parts of the state may be removed from the burn ban soon if the weather does not return to 100-degree heat and high winds, Finch-Walker said.
"We urge people to be patient; give our firefighters a rest," she said. "Until it's lifted, please heed the ban."
Will the cooler temperatures and rainfall last?
"The extended outlook shows a possible return to the hot and dry weather," McManus said.
However, he said, "We're definitely in for a different air mass than what we've seen in July. The heat dome is moving off of us.
"We need to take advantage of this while we can."
Dry from drought, relief from rainfall
Through Aug. 8: Tulsa had 14 straight days with highs reaching the 100s, dating back to July 26.
Through Aug. 5: Tulsa had 23 straight days with no measurable rainfall, dating back to July 14.
Heat streak's end: Since Tuesday, Tulsa has not recorded temperatures in the 100s.
Dry streak's end: Since Monday, Tulsa has recorded some rainfall each day.
Wednesday's rainfall: 3.4 inches
Total August rainfall*: 4.6 inches
Normal total August rainfall: 2.9 inches
* as of Aug. 10.
Source: National Weather Service
Water rationing lifted
Mayor Dewey Bartlett on Thursday lifted the voluntary water rationing for Tulsa.
In a news release, he said that with the order lifted, all splash pads and water playgrounds will be turned back on.
Although the "rain we are receiving is putting less strain on our system, we will continue to monitor the tank levels and water usage levels in case we may need to implement voluntary restrictions once temperatures spike again," he said.
Bartlett said the water plants have been running near capacity for the past few weeks, but the week of voluntary water rationing and the rainfall have resulted in dramatically decreasing the level of water usage.
Since Saturday, the usage has been below 200 million gallons a day.
- P.J. Lassek, World Staff Writer
Original Print Headline: More rainfall needed to lift state burn ban
Althea Peterson 918-581-8361
A car travels slowly in the rainy conditions on Pine Street near Norfolk Avenue. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World