It’s bad, and some people say it’s going to get worse.

Bug Tussle rancher Larry Winters said he’s not sure what he’ll do if it doesn’t rain this spring. Several of his ponds are dry and “The others are getting real low.”

But rain isn’t in the forecast any time soon. In fact, said Derek Arndt, acting state climatologist, the National Climate Prediction Center currently gives equal chances for rain — or no rain — for the next three months. “Any kind of long-term forecast is not a very confident one,” Arndt said.

“We’ll get some rain, that’s for certain, but is it going to be enough to get us into the summer without struggling? I don’t know.”

Despite a brief respite brought on by January rains, Southeast Oklahoma has had the driest year on record since 1921, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

In a report released Tuesday, the OCS said that the 365 days preceding the report were the driest of any given year since data began being collected. This portion of the state has also undergone the second driest two-year period it’s ever had since 1921.

Overall, Southeast Oklahoma has received slightly more than seven inches of rain in the 365 days preceding the report. That’s about 35 percent of what it normally receives.

That makes the period of February 2005 to February 2006 the driest since 1966-67.

Which is all the more reason “We need a really good spring,” Arndt said.

“Typically, April, May and June are the months that can really deliver.”

But even among climatologists and meteorologists, there’s some confusion about what the spring will be like. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Feb. 3 that said an atmospheric condition known as La Niña can be expected to affect global weather patterns this year. La Niña is the periodic cooling of ocean waters in the east-central equatorial Pacific and NOAA predicts La Niña to last until late spring or possible even into the summer.

Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said, “This pattern will favor continued drought in parts of the South and Southwest from Arizona to Arkansas and Louisiana, and above normal precipitation in the Northwest and the Tennessee Valley area.”

But, Arndt said, not everyone believes La Niña will have much impact on the weather. “It’s really too early to say,” he said.

Whether the drought will continue or be broken by spring rains, its effects are visible in the dried mud of lake shores, in the hulls of boats sitting on the ground where they normally rested on water — an in the normally submerged tree stumps that are now visible from shore.

“You’re seeing more land now than ever,” said Lone Wolf resident Delores Hurley, who spends a lot of time fishing, camping or otherwise involved in the outdoors. “At Lake Eufaula, you can see tree stumps you’ve never seen before and you have to wonder how skiers and people on jet skis keep from being hurt, there are so many stumps out there.”

Low lake levels affect fishing as well, she said, since people fishing from shore often have to wade through thick, not-quite-dry mud to get to a place from which they can cast their lines.

Even then, the low water makes it difficult to judge how deep to set the lines, she said. “I’ve seen people in boats that have trouble. If you’re normally fishing in 11 feet of water in an area, now you’re fishing in five. You get a lot of tangles and snags — it’s bad.”

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