May is the season of severe storms in Oklahoma. The week leading up to Memorial Day included numerous severe storms and several tornadoes in the state with lots of damage and, most regrettably, several injuries and fatalities. A bit more unusual this year is the persistent pattern of wet weather.
According to the Mesonet, the year so far through May 26 is the fourth wettest year on record in the state with the last thirty days the second wettest for the period. Regionally, the north central and northeast regions of the state are experiencing the wettest 30-day rain totals with the second wettest 30 day totals in the west central and central regions. Several areas have experienced double-digit rain totals in the past week bringing 30-day rain totals to more than 330 percent of normal.
Widespread flooding is impacting numerous locations around the state. The Arkansas and Cimarron river drainages are particularly hard hit with water levels still rising and more rain expected this week. Keystone Lake, into which the Arkansas and Cimarron rivers flow, is currently reported at 33.53 feet above normal with the flood control pool 112 percent of full. Keystone dam is releasing 275 thousand cubic feet per second of water as flood conditions inevitably move down the Arkansas River. The Arkansas River at Tulsa, just below Keystone Dam, is projected to crest this week at about 23 feet, well above flood stage of 18 feet, and just below the record level of 25.2 feet in 1986.
Commercial navigation on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) is being disrupted due to high waters. MKARNS provides inland ports that connect directly to the Mississippi river as far inland as the Port of Catoosa, near Tulsa, Oklahoma. The MKARNS is an important transportation artery for agriculture in a multi-state region, providing a market for grain shipments downstream and the arrival of inputs such as fertilizer.
The May Cattle on Feed report showed April feedlot inventories of 11.8 million, 102.2 percent of last year and the largest May 1 total in the current data series since 1996. April feedlot placements were up 8.7 percent year over year, at the low end of pre-report expectations. Feedlot marketings in April were 6.9 percent higher year over year, equal to expectations. April 2019 had one more business day compared to last year, accounting for some of the year over year increase in marketings and placements.