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Q&A with Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey

With one month left, it is possible this calendar year will emerge as Oklahoma's warmest on record in terms of statewide average temperature.
Oklahoman Modified: November 29, 2012 at 11:44 pm •  Published: November 30, 2012

Year may be the warmest on record

With one month left, it is possible this calendar year will emerge as Oklahoma's warmest on record in terms of statewide average temperature.

Thursday, Gary McManus, with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said it looked like 2012 would be a few 10ths of a degree warmer through November than for the same months in 1954. If so, December will just need to finish a bit above normal to allow 2012 to top 1954's statewide record average of 62.8 degrees.

January, March, April and May each were significantly above normal and propelled 2012 to a commanding lead towards potentially the warmest year in Oklahoma.

After the warmest spring on record for the state, the summer ranked as the 12th-warmest on record.

“The drought had a lot to do with that, and conversely the heat had a lot to do with the drought intensification we saw from May through August,” McManus said. “October was actually below normal by a degree or so, but the warmth returned in November.

“While it has cooled down lately, November is going to end up significantly warm. And the heat is not expected to stop there. Near record-breaking temperatures could be in store for the state as we enter December this weekend.”

Q: Thoughts on this drought and the warm temperatures this year?

A: When you look at the intensity of the drought right now, there is little hope for complete recovery until we see spring. December through February is easily our driest time of the year, and so drought-busting moisture is normally not in the works. Last year's significant rains were the anomaly, not the norm. So as we enter spring, we will most likely still be in drought. It is absolutely vital that we see a more normal springtime rainy season this year after the misfires of the last two years. Any hint of another interrupted rainy season that leaves drought in place as we approach the warm season will result in the likelihood of a full three years of drought going up considerably. The outlooks for spring from the Climate Prediction Center are continuing to show increased odds of below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures. That would obviously be disastrous, but that period is still a long ways off, and the outlook could easily change by then.

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