Did you guys see the dust storm photos?

lat0403January 14, 2014

I'll post the link to the Mesonet ticker where I saw them. It looks like these pictures were taken near/in Boise City. Not a place I'd like to live.

We've been really windy the last couple of days, but at least it doesn't do this. I've always wondered why it doesn't happen here because I don't really think the conditions are that different, but I'm not going to complain about it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mesonet Ticker

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I saw a news story about this dust storm on News 9's website today. It is just awful to look at those photos.

We've had minor dust storms blow in dust from west Tx or western OK before, but nothing big like these rolling clouds of dust. When it happens to us (maybe twice a decade, and the last one I remember was around 2006 ), we generally are having wind gusts in the 50s.

I assume the part of Colorado where the dust storm originated is drier than we can imagine...or the winds were stronger there than here.

On the rare occasions we've had a minor dust storm blow in(that was nothing close to what these photos show from Cimarron County), the winds also bring down a few power lines and often spark fires, so the less often this happens, the better, as far as I am concerned.

We have had wind the last couple of days, but not as much as a lot of other parts of OK. I think our strongest gusts only made it to 38 or 39 mph.

That's this part of the country for you.....ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, freezing fog, record cold temperatures in a few places, record hot temperatures in a few places, sunny skies, cloudy skies, smokey skies, dustyy skies......normal rain, thunderstorms, flash flooding, regular flooding, earthquakes and wildfires......and that's all in the last month or so. It makes you wonder what comes next? A plague of frogs? Locusts?

When someone new here in our county asks me what normal weather here is, I tell them "we don't do normal". They don't have to live here long to understand what I meant.

Leslie, do you have any drinking water left in the reservoirs over there?


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:57PM
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Not a lot. We're doing okay, but it's because people have really started conserving. There was an article in the paper a couple of days ago that said use was down 35% from 2012 to 2013. That was here in town and the other communities (the ones who use Tom Steed) usages were down too, just not as much. Our water supply is a combination of Lake Altus and Tom Steed. Lake Altus is at 12% and Steed is at 28%. Steed hit a record low a few months ago. It's actually up a little since then but not much. We're still in stage 3 water restrictions, but the code says we were suppoosed to go to stage 4 when Steed hit 30%.

I'd imagine use was cut quite a bit when they started using the Lake Altus water. The lake had an algae bloom this summer that killed everything in it. They say the water is safe to drink, but I think I'll pass on drinking dead fish water. Everyone I know is drinking bottled water. The lower the water level gets the worse it will be too.

Facebook probably helped too. There's an opinion group for the city on Facebook and if you were running your sprinklers when you weren't supposed to, it was likely you'd get a picture of it posted on the group. Shaming people into conservation! I think someone even created a group just for that. Too much for me, but whatever.

The city owns the rights to some wells across the Texas border, but they haven't been used in a long time so it'll take a lot of work to get them back up and running. A little maintenance to keep them in good condition would've been nice, but hindsight is 20/20. There are a lot of things that could've been done to prevent this. Hopefully we'll get some rain to help us out.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:17AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I am concerned about what comes next if y'all have a dry winter and spring in 2014. It is hard for me to imagine y'all suddenly having a lot of moisture falling in the next few months, especially since the drought outlook says to expect continued drought the next few months in the parts of OK still in drought and also warns that those of us who are barely out of drought may see it return this winter. I want to see a drought outlook that tells us all to start building an ark! We need a good El Nino pattern next winter that will bring us oodles of water.

I thought of you and your region on Sunday when the Dallas Morning News had an article about how the reservoirs that are used to provide water to the Dallas-Fort Worth area are about 10% lower right now, on the average, than they were at this time last year. They made it sound very dire, and yet most of those reservoirs still were at least at 60-70% capacity, although the main lake used for the North Texas Municipal Water District (which is Lake Lavon) sits at just under 50% of its capacity. I cannot even imagine what they'd be talking about if the reservoirs were at, let's say, 20-30% capacity.

Just because their lakes have water in them, though, does not mean that they are in great shape. The water district that supplies Fort Worth just switched over from one reservoir to another, and the water is being piped in from east Texas. Since those pipes apparently hadn't been used lately, there are complaints that the water tastes bad and smells bad, even though it is treated with chemicals and is safe to drink. As you've already learned there, "safe to drink" doesn't mean it is pleasant or enjoyable to drink.

Big Spring,TX, has its reservoirs at only 14% capacity and so they have built a treatment plant that cleans sewer effluent so efficiently and so well that it is returned to the system as clean and usable drinking water. I understand that Wichita Falls either already is building something similar or is in the planning stages to do so.

I probably wouldn't rat out anyone who was watering during water conservation periods, but I can understand why people who are following all the rules get frustrated with those who aren't. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that it takes shaming to get some people to comply with water restrictions, but nowadays there's so many people who think that the rules don't apply to them that maybe publicly exposing their actions and shaming them is what it takes to get compliance.

We had roughly 10" of rain this past fall (it was as wonderful as it sounds to see actual raindrops falling from the sky), which brought our year-to-date rainfall right back up to our annual average. Unfortunately, most of that fell after everything was dormant or going dormant, so we didn't really green up too much. Sadly, though, even with all that rainfall, the water available at 4" below the soil surface is just barely, barely, barely enough for us to not need to water. At least it did put some water back into the ranchers' stock tanks so they aren't having to haul water to their cattle.

Having moisture in the ground at planting time is good, so I feel fairly good about the cool season crops, but we need for some more rain to fall before I can feel happier about planting a lot of warm-season crops. The last summer that we had where I didn't have to water all the time like a crazy woman was 2010 and I've almost forgotten what it was like. I even redid the layout of my big front garden last winter so the drip irrigation lines could water it more efficiently. We changed it from a layout that was more like a potager (although the purpose of that layout wasn't to look attractive, it was to reduce runoff and erosion in our sloping garden) to straight boring rows so the drip lines all could run in straight boring rows. I don't like how it looks now, but it is more efficient to water it effectively with the least amount of wasted water.

January is always my county's driest month (and that may be true of all of OK, but I don't know that for sure). Here we are halfway through the month, and we have had something like 0.23" of rain. Maybe it is 0.27". Either way, we are a long way from our January average of 1.74". We need to get some good rain in the next couple of weeks, or we'll be slipping back into drought in the blink of an eye.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 9:59AM
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We'd be in much better shape than we are if Lake Altus' primary purpose wasn't irrigation. Every year, they would drain the lake to irrigate, it would fill back up during the fall/winter/spring and they'd do it again the next year. Then one year it didn't fill back up. It's been years since they've irrigated out of it and we still can't get enough rain to fill it back up. I feel sorry for the farmers, but most of that water was wasted, flowing through dirt lined ditches. I'd say they all need to read The Worst Hard Time, but I think they're already experiencing something like it.

The DFW area has a whole lot more people than we do here, so I understand why they'd be worried even though their numbers look better. I'm sure they're much more prepared for it, though. We suffer from a horrible lack of planning. There's been a lot of talk about getting water from eastern Oklahoma and then the Texas wells I mentioned earlier, but all of that talk started this summer when it was already too late to do any good. Hopefully we'll have the Texas water this year, but I'm not holding my breath for a pipeline from Eastern to Western Oklahoma any time soon.

Yeah, I think January in Oklahoma is probably pretty dry all over the state. Our average is a little less than an inch for the month. We're as far away from that as you can get, as the last rain we've received was about a quarter of an inch on Dec 22. There's no rain in our 10 day forecast so we may not end up with any at all in January 2014. Not a good way to start the year.

As dry as it's been here, our 4 inch available water is almost exactly the same as yours. I set drip irrigation up in my beds last year, but I'm not counting on being able to use it much. IF we're still in stage 3, I'll be able to water using the drip once a week, but I imagine a lot of the water I'll be using will be coming from barrels, whether rain or just water I've saved.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:17PM
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