What is a Water Year?


A lot of people including some meteorologists are unaware of the term "water year" which is similar to a fiscal year. According to the USGS (United States Geological Society) the water year runs from October of one year to September of the following year. The reason for a water year running from October to September is that in parts of the country, precipitation falling as snow in the fall and winter does not become part of the drainage until the following spring. In Oklahoma as the water year is coming to a close, we look at the rainfall across Northeast Oklahoma, and a deficit appears in most areas and excess in a few others. There is a swath of above normal this water year so far stretching from Payne county to McIntosh and Pittsburg counties where there is a bulls-eye (see Mesonet map above). Also the far corner of northeast Oklahoma in Ottawa county is also above normal along with parts of LeFlore county near Ft. Smith. There is another swath across our area but it is for way below normal rainfall and it stretches from northern Kay county through Osage county to Adar county. Across Tulsa county there is quite a deficit in the northern parts of the county where the southern portions are not as quite below normal. This water year is likely going to go down as below normal for most of northeast Oklahoma when the water year ends at the end of September. Hopefully, with the forecast of an El Nino winter, we will start off the new water year ahead of normal as El Nino winters typically tend to be warmer and wetter for northeast Oklahoma.

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