A look at some of the weather happenings during 2011, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the National Weather Service, state Emergency Management
Although there were certainly others in 2011, this gives an idea of the wide range of what Oklahomans have faced in terms of disasters including weather-related events, earthquakes and wildfires.
The month was the 33rd coolest and sixth driest since 1895.
In January/February, there were four fatalities related to a snowstorm that began Jan. 31, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
Up to 21 inches of snow fell in northeast Oklahoma, and there were reports of 6 to 12 inches over much of the state.
An all-time 24-hour record of 27 inches of snow fell in Spavinaw between Feb. 8-9. The temperature plummeted to a never-before-seen low of minus-31 degrees at the Nowata Mesonet site. Mother Nature brought a swift and steady warm-up through the next seven days, culminating in a 110-degree temperature swing at Nowata in a week’s time.
Destruction of a significant portion of the state’s wheat crop was well under way at this time as the drought continued to intensify.
The month ended as the 31st warmest and eighth driest since 1895. Drought continued to intensify.
On March 11, there were reports of 15 people injured in wildfires, according to the state Health Department. More than 42 fires were reported statewide that day, according to reports from Oklahoma Forestry Services.
Preliminary damage assessments received from the American Red Cross and local emergency managers included 30 homes destroyed in Oklahoma County alone.
The month brought the most tornadoes, 50, in April since accurate records began in 1950. The previous record was 40 in 1957.
Two people were killed by an EF3 tornado that struck Tushka in Atoka County on April 14.
Ponca City reported a 94 mph wind gust on April 8 to go along with more than a half-dozen instances of softball-size hail during the month. There was flooding in the eastern half of the state.
The drought continued to intensify.
By the evening of April 3, the state Emergency Operations Center was aware of more than 100 fires burning across the state.
On April 6, the state Emergency Operations Center was working with the Oklahoma National Guard to provide aerial fire suppression via Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters equipped with buckets. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol was assisting with traffic control. Oklahoma Forestry Services was providing ground firefighting equipment.
Tornadoes, including an EF5 tornado, ravaged the state during May. And, yes, the drought continued to intensify. The 46 twisters during May killed 11, including nine by an EF5 that traveled from near Hinton to Guthrie on May 24.
Two EF3s, two EF4s and the EF5 all struck on May 24.
On May 23, a storm near Gotebo dropped a 6-inch diameter hailstone, a new statewide record in that category,
June, July and August
This was the hottest summer in terms of statewide average for any state since records began in 1895, with a statewide average of 86.9 degrees. Early reports showed Texas with the hottest summer, but the National Climatic Data Center continued to study information. Not only did Oklahoma beat its own record for the previous hottest summer of 85.2 degrees from 1934, it destroyed it by 1.6 degrees. In fact, Oklahoma now owns five of the 10 (11 with a tie) hottest summers across the U.S. since 1895.
The statewide record was broken for the most triple-digit days. The previous record for most days at or above 100 degrees for a single location in the state was 86, set at Hollis in 1956. Grandfield had 101 days this year.
July’s statewide average temperature for Oklahoma was 89.3 degrees. The previous hottest July in state history was 88.1 degrees in 1954. The 88.1 degrees in 1954 also had been the hottest month in any state since 1895, until this July in Oklahoma.
In this span there were numerous wildfires, with 15 resulting in Fire Management Assistance Grants, according to the state Emergency Management Department.
The drought was at its zenith. Nearly 70 percent of the state was covered by the exceptional drought category by early September, and 85 percent was in extreme/exceptional drought. The sun, heat and lack of precipitation had taken its toll for three long months.
The statewide average temperature for September was 1.4 degrees below normal and the 32nd coolest since 1895. Fort Supply reached a low of 37 degrees on Sept. 6. The month was also the 20th driest on record, at 2.15 inches below normal.
Some drought relief came for central and northeastern Oklahoma. The Panhandle even saw a bit of snow late in the month.
There was a 4.7-magnitude earthquake at 2:12 a.m. Nov. 5 northwest of Prague.
Later on Nov. 5, there was a 5.6-magnitude quake. The epicenter was northwest of Prague. The 5.6 earthquake broke the state’s previous record for strongest recorded earthquake — 5.5 magnitude in El Reno in 1952 — according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Another earthquake, registered at 4.7 magnitude, was centered in Lincoln County on Nov. 7. The epicenter was about five miles northwest of Prague.
Weather-wise, November seemed more like May. There was flooding, and there were some tornadoes, including an EF4 grinder Nov. 7 that tore through the Tipton area. It was the first violent tornado, EF4/EF5, in November on official records for tornadoes in Oklahoma, dating to 1950.
There were 10 tornadoes confirmed for November, bringing the annual total to date to 114 for 2011, topping the 107 in 1957 for second place. The most was 145 in 1999.
The Oklahoma Mesonet station at Hooker in the Panhandle has recorded 6.2 inches precipitation for the year. The lowest measured annual total for any single location in the state is 6.5 inches from Regnier in 1956.