Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Tulsa Escaping Worst of Drought, But ‘Abnormally Dry’ Conditions Taking a Toll

Arkansas River near Tulsa, Okla.

OakleyOriginals / Flickr

Arkansas River near Tulsa, Okla.

Tulsa has been spared the worst effects of Oklahoma’s drought, which has been concentrated in western and southwestern regions of the state.

But while Tulsa and its neighboring cities and towns have avoided the type of water rationing Altus and Duncan residents have endured, as well as the tough water-related policy decisions that befell Oklahoma City in January, “abnormally dry” conditions are plaguing northeastern Oklahoma.

The suffering is subtle in Green Country, the Tulsa World’s Ginnie Graham reports:

“But ‘abnormally dry’ is a precursor to drought,” Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey tells the paper.

Rainfall is only one way to measure a drought, McManus tells the paper:

“You look at what the impacts are. Are the reservoirs full? What is the soil moisture? Has there been damage to crops? Is there delayed planting? Everything is taken into account.”

Trees have suffered the most, the World reports:

Old trees with deep roots are not getting moisture out of the subsoil.

Up With Trees in Tulsa has lost more than 60 mature trees since the spring because of a lack of water, said interim Executive Director Steve Grantham.

Many of them died in the medians and had to be removed.

“These large, established trees have lived through the last couple of years struggling,” Grantham said. “It’s like they are saying, ‘I’m giving up.’ ”

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »