92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 2:00 PM
Managing Exceptional Drought in Oklahoma
Room 354 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Mark A. Shafer, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK; and G. McManus

Like much of the south central United States, Oklahoma has been mired in exceptional drought (D4, the top level of severity according to the U.S. Drought Monitor). This event has opened a policy window to revise the state's drought plan. The Oklahoma Drought Management Plan, written in 1997, has not been updated in nearly 15 years. New tools, including the U.S. Drought Monitor, new forms of communication, and restructuring of state agencies and missions have occurred during the interim. Despite a severe drought in 2005-2006, no revisions have been made to the original plan.

A convergence of several other factors has occurred to open a new opportunity to revisit the state drought plan. Chiefly, the establishment of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) has provided policy entrepreneurs able to shepherd revision through the system. It is not likely that plan revision would have occurred without these factors. State agencies are even more constrained than they were in the 2006 drought due to attrition related to the economic downturn. Furthermore, the champion of the 1997 effort, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, has more recently been consumed with an update to the state's Comprehensive Water Plan with a series of highly visible public meetings throughout the course of 2011.

This presentation will examine the drivers behind updating the drought plan and the key role played by NIDIS and SCIPP in nurturing key relationships with state agencies prior to the emergence of extreme and exceptional drought in Oklahoma. Related support from the National Drought Mitigation Center and the NIDIS Early Preparedness Communities created a set of resources available to SCIPP and state agencies throughout the planning process.

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