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December 30, 2011 December 30, 2011 December 30, 2011 December 30, 2011
2011, we're NOT glad we met ya!
A bit of a quick review of this year's weather, one of many you can find from
the various weather enterprises in the state. A bit of an update from our
previous attempt at an update back in a November Ticker:
Here are some others to peruse as we enter the new year.
A Year of Extremes: Oklahoma?s 2011 Weather in Review
Extreme weather grabbed headlines across the globe during 2011 and nowhere more
so than right here in Oklahoma. The state experienced nearly every weather
calamity possible, setting all-time records for heat, cold, drought, tornadoes,
hail and snow. Damages due to weather-related disasters in Oklahoma rose into
the billions of dollars. Agricultural damage alone from the drought and related
heat has been estimated as high as $2 billion. As if weather-related disasters
were not enough, trouble was also brewing below the earth?s surface. A series of
relatively strong earthquakes shook the state during November, including a 5.6
intensity quake near Sparks on Nov. 5 ? the strongest ever recorded in
The year began and ended with tranquil weather, but it is that in-between
period that will be indelibly etched in memory as one of most non-tranquil in
state history. Here are the highlights ? or lowlights ? of Oklahoma?s
tumultuous year in weather.
? Snowstorms ? A little more than a year after the powerful Christmas
Eve blizzard of 2009, two more significant winter storms weather
struck the state in late January and early February 2011. The first
dumped up to 21 inches of snow in northeast Oklahoma with widespread
reports of 6-12 inches over much of the state. Winds of up to 60 mph
contributed to massive drifts of over 5 feet. During a second storm
several days later, the state record for 24-hour snowfall was broken
when 27 inches of snow fell in Spavinaw over Feb. 8-9. Another
powerful High Plains blizzard blasted the western Oklahoma Panhandle
in December. Up to 15 inches of snow fell in Cimarron County and high
winds caused drifting that close roads across the area and stranded
motorists for days.
? Record cold ? On the morning of Feb. 10, light winds, clear skies
and a fresh snowpack allowed temperatures to plummet into
never-before-seen territory in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Mesonet site
at Nowata reached a low of 31 degrees below zero, shattering the
state?s previous low temperature record of 27 degrees below zero.
Much of northern Oklahoma saw temperatures of 20 degrees below zero
or lower. As another example of 2011?s extreme weather, high
temperatures seven days later were in the 70s and 80s across the
state. Nowata?s high temperature on Feb. 17 was 79 degrees, a
remarkable 110-degree temperature swing within a week?s time.
? Drought ? Fed by La Nina, the drought that began in October 2010
intensified through spring in the western half of the state before
exploding statewide during summer. Crops withered and a beleaguered
cattle industry saw widespread sell-offs due to lack of forage and
water. Widespread relief arrived during the fall with the 12th wettest
November statewide since 1895. The year ended as the 11th driest on
record statewide but for much of western Oklahoma, it ranked in the
top three driest years. The Oklahoma Mesonet site at Hooker recorded
6.2 inches of precipitation for the year, the lowest total for an
individual location ever recorded in Oklahoma. The previous record
of 6.5 inches was held by the fellow Panhandle town of Regnier in
? Summer heat ? With severe drought in place entering June, extreme
summer heat was sure to follow. Simply put, Oklahoma experienced
the hottest summer of any state since records began in 1895 with
a statewide average of 86.9 degrees. July?s average temperature
was 89.3 degrees, becoming the hottest month for any state on
record, besting over 67,000 other months. The state also experienced
its second hottest June and hottest August on record. The Oklahoma
Mesonet site at Grandfield recorded 101 days above 100 degrees,
breaking the previous state record of 86 days from Hollis in 1956.
Oklahoma City?s 63 100-degree days shattered its previous mark of
50 from 1980. Similar records were broken throughout western
? Tornadoes ? Oklahoma?s preliminary 2011 tornado count stands at 118.
That is the second highest total for the state since statistics
began in 1950, next to 1999?s 145. April?s 50 tornadoes were the
most on record for that month, an even odder statistic considering
all occurred east of I-35. While several violent tornadoes struck
the state during 2011, the most serious was the EF-5 twister that
traveled from near Hinton to Guthrie on May 24, killing nine people.
Along the way, that monster gave a glancing blow to the Oklahoma
Mesonet site at El Reno. The El Reno Mesonet site recorded a maximum
wind gust of 151 mph, setting the record for strongest surface wind
ever measured (non-radar) in Oklahoma. The 14 deaths attributed to
tornadoes in 2011 were the most since 1999?s 42 fatalities. The
preliminary count of 10 tornadoes during November was the second
highest on record for that month. A violent EF-4 brute tore through
southwestern Oklahoma on Nov. 7, becoming the most powerful November
tornado on record for the state.
? Hail ? Amidst the tornadoes and large hail reports of April and May,
a supercell near Gotebo on May 23 dropped a monster 6-inch diameter
hailstone, establishing a new record in that particular category for
As the state enters 2012, the attention turns once again to dry weather with
much of western Oklahoma still covered by severe-exceptional drought. And while
another extreme weather year like 2011 should not be expected, veterans of
Oklahoma?s wild weather certainly understand it should never be discounted.
Associate State Climatologist
Oklahoma Climatological Survey
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