Gary McManus, associate state climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey and Oklahoma Mesonet, chatted with readers Tuesday about Oklahoma heat, weather records and drought. Read the entire chat recap here.
Topics discussed today: Heat wave and weather extremes the state experienced in 2011, current heat conditions this year, the widespread drought, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the differences between La Nina and El Nino climate patterns.
On the 2011 heat wave and weather extremes:
Well, last year was a year of extremes to say the least. We set many all-time records, but the biggie was the summer heat. We experienced the hottest summer of any state since records began in 1895 with a statewide average of 86.9 degrees. Our July was actually the hottest month for any state as well, so that's over 67,000 possible months we topped. But we also set records for all-time lowest temperature (Nowata, -31 degrees on Feb. 10), largest hailstone (6 inches) highest recorded windspeed (151 mph), highest 24 hour snowfall amount (27 inches at Spavinaw) so there was a bit for everybody.
On current weather conditions:
Most definitely less thus far this summer. 2011 had a running start to the heat with an already extreme, mature drought beginning the summer months. This year we had a good amount of moisture and the drought was just sort of hanging around. As I've said many times, you do not want to go into a summer with either a drought in place or a developing drought, because they can take off in our dry, hot summers. Well, last year vs. this year we saw which was worse...starting a summer already in extreme drought. June was brutal last year, just sort of hot this year. Triple-digit counts are not nearly what they were last year at this time, really just getting started.
On the widespread drought: