Oklahoma climatological survey electricity multiple choice questions grade 9

Wildfires rolled across the Oklahoma prairie for two weeks in April, scorching hundreds of thousands of acres and placing entire towns in jeopardy. The fires came on the heels of more than six months of drought in which western Oklahoma received virtually no significant precipitation. Vegetation that had seen abundant growth during 2017 lay dormant or dead, awaiting a spark. Weather conditions coalesced on the 12 th and 17 th to produce fire danger labeled “historic.” As feared, fires roared to life on the 12 th, driven to a frenzy on winds gusting to over 50 mph. The two largest fires began near each other in northwest Oklahoma. The “Rhea Fire” ignited southwest of Leedey in Dewey County and would go on to consume over 286,000 acres. The “34 Complex Fire,” began as three separate fires in Woodward and Harper counties that merged into one, eventually burning over 60,000 acres. The fires were not fully contained until the 25 th following two helpful rainfall events. Numerous smaller fires dotted the Oklahoma landscape. Nearly 400,000 acres burned across the state during the outbreak, burning dozens of homes and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. Twenty fire-related injuries were reported by area hospitals, mostly due to smoke inhalation. The fires claimed two lives – a 61-year-old man died in Roger Mills County fighting a small fire that began near Leedey, and a woman died in her vehicle near Seiling.

The drought that began in October 2017 continued on during April, despite some beneficial moisture. According to preliminary numbers from the Oklahoma Mesonet, the statewide average of 2.14 inches was 1.12 inches below normal to rank as the 25 th driest April since records began in 1895. Tipton had the lowest total of any Mesonet site with 0.52 inches, although Hollis was close behind at 0.54 inches. Okmulgee led the state with 5.35 inches. Only eight of the Mesonet’s 120 sites finished April with an above normal rainfall total. The statewide deficit for the year through April stood at 1.15 inches, the 60 th driest January-April on record. The northwestern half of the state was much drier than the southeast through that period, however, with deficits of 3-6 inches common. Boise City recorded a paltry 0.9 inches of precipitation since the beginning of the year, while Broken Bow has had 28.3 inches.

April was remarkably cool with a statewide average of 54.1 degrees, 5.2 degrees below normal to make it the second coolest on record. Only 1983’s mark of 53.2 degrees was lower. The lowest April temperature of 16 degrees occurred at Buffalo on the fourth and Slapout on the seventh. The highest temperature 102 degrees was reported at four Mesonet sites across western Oklahoma on the 12 th. The January-April statewide average temperature was 46.2 degrees, 1.2 degrees below normal to rank as the 50 th coolest such period on record.

Despite the modicum of relief experienced by western Oklahoma, the amount of drought in the state remained steady at 47 percent from the end of March through April, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The percentage of drought considered extreme-to-exceptional, the two worst categories, also remained unchanged at 35 percent. Exceptional drought, the highest level on the Drought Monitor’s intensity scale, actually increased from 15 to 20 percent.

The May temperature and precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center call for increased odds of above normal temperatures across the entire state, and above normal precipitation across all but the far western Panhandle. The greatest odds for above normal rain amounts fall across far southern Oklahoma. Despite those odds, drought is expected to persist or intensify across much of western Oklahoma due to the severity of the deficits seen in those areas since last October. To the east of that area where drought is not quite as severe, some drought improvement or removal is favored.

To get a sense of the state’s legendary heat waves of its past, Oklahoma’s youngest generation would normally turn to the stories of parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. Tales of those summers from the 1930s, 1950s and even 1980 seemed as dated as rotary phones or changing the television channel by hand. They will no longer need to ask older generations about harsh summers, however. They now have their own stories to tell, and theirs will be from the hottest of them all – the summer of 2011.

According to data from the Oklahoma Mesonet, the state’s climatological summer – June 1 through August 31 – ended with a statewide average of 86.8 degrees, obliterating the previous state record of 85.2 degrees from the summer of 1934. In fact, that previous 1934 mark was the warmest summer on record for any state since records began in 1895. While Texas’ final summer statistics are still preliminary, it is known that they also surpassed that 1934 record. It may take weeks before the new record holder is known, however. The statewide average high temperature through the summer was 100.5 degrees, topped by southwestern Oklahoma’s average high of 104 degrees. The highest temperature during this summer was 115 degrees, recorded in June at Erick and Hollis and in August at Wilburton and Wister. Oklahoma City smashed its record for hottest summer with an average of 87.5 degrees, besting the previous mark of 85.9 degrees set in 1934 and 1980. Grandfield’s three-month average of 92 degrees led the state with Kenton the coolest at 79.5 degrees.

August put the final touches on the momentous 2011 summer. The statewide average temperature was 87.7 degrees, 7.3 degrees above normal and the warmest August on record for Oklahoma. The previous record was 87.2 degrees from 1936. Southwest Oklahoma, the area hit hardest by the drought and heat, had an average temperature of 91 degrees, 9.2 degrees above normal. That tops the previous warmest summer for that region by nearly 3 degrees. The average high temperature for the month in that corner of the state was 105 degrees.

The heat has not been confined to the climatological summer’s boundaries. The Oklahoma Mesonet site at Grandfield recorded a high temperature at or above 100 degrees an astounding 97 times for the year from April 18-September 1. The previous high count for one year was 86 days by Hollis during the summer of 1956. Several other locations have exceeded the previous record this year. Oklahoma City surpassed its own record of 50 days at or above 100 degrees with 59 days through September 1.

The heat has been fed by extreme drought that began nearly a year ago. The statewide average precipitation total from October 1, 2010-August 31, 2011, finished at 18.59 inches, 14.29 inches below normal and the third driest such period on record. That 11-month period was the driest on record for the Panhandle, north central, west central and southwestern Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Mesonet sites at Boise City, Grandfield, Goodwell and Hooker all recorded less than 6 inches of rainfall since October 1.

August saw relief for some but a continuation of desperate times for others. The northeastern quarter of the state led the way with 4-6 inches of drought-relieving rainfall. Much of the state saw at least 1-2 inches but high temperatures and sunny skies made short work of that moisture. As for the southwest and parts of south central Oklahoma, they were left high and dry once again. The Oklahoma Mesonet site at Tipton saw a miserable one-hundredth of an inch of rain during the month.