November 1, 2013
By Gary McManus, Oklahoma Climatological Survey:
Eastern Oklahoma saw plenty of rain during October, putting the halt to a blossoming flash drought in that part of the state. Unfortunately for drought-plagued western Oklahoma, Mother Nature was not quite so generous. Rainfall totals recorded by the Oklahoma Mesonet during October ranged from 7.15 inches at Wister in LeFlore County to a paltry 0.14 inches at Erick in Beckham County.
That sort of disparity, while a bit exaggerated, spelled out the month’s precipitation fortunes for the two sides of the state.
The surplus in the east and the deficit in the west did manage to even things out with an average total across the state of 3.13 inches. That ranks October as the 47th wettest since records began in 1895, but still amounts to a deficit of about a third of an inch. To punctuate the disparity between the east and west, southeastern Oklahoma experienced its 20th wettest October on record and west central Oklahoma suffered through its 35th driest.
The January-October period was the 31st wettest across the state with a statewide average of 33.65 inches, 1.82 inches above normal. Central Oklahoma stands out during that time frame with an average of 41.86 inches, 8.69 inches above normal to rank as the eighth wettest on record. Oklahoma City’s January-October total of 50.55 inches is its second highest on record, dating back to 1891, after recording 3.42 inches during October. Oklahoma City’s record total of 52.99 inches for January-October occurred in 2007.
Temperatures began the month on the hot side, but a series of cool fronts brought the statewide average back below normal by the end of the month. The month finished as the 38th coolest October on record with an average temperature of 60.5 degrees, nearly a degree below normal. The state’s first freeze struck in the Panhandle on October 6. Kenton dropped to 27 degrees on that date, and Boise City and Goodwell also reached the freezing mark. By the end of the month, most of the northwestern half of the state had seen a freeze. The Mesonet’s lowest recorded temperature for October was 25 degrees at Kenton on the 18th and then again at Boise City on the 19th. The highest temperature of 96 degrees was reported at Hollis on the fourth. The year was still on track to finish slightly below normal. The statewide average temperature for the January-October period was 62.5 degrees, 0.3 degrees below normal and the 50th coolest on record.
The percentage of the state impacted by drought dropped from 43 percent to 31 percent during October according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Most of that reduction occurred across southeastern Oklahoma, as expected from their generous rainfall totals. Nearly 15 percent of the state remained in at least severe drought, with most of that showing up in the Panhandle and southwestern Oklahoma. Exceptional drought, the Drought Monitor’s worst category, still covered most of Jackson and Tillman counties in far southwestern Oklahoma. At the end of October last year, virtually the entire state was mired in at least severe drought. At that point, Oklahoma was in the midst of its driest May-December on record.
The November temperature outlook from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for increased odds of above normal temperatures across all areas of the state except the far northwest and Panhandle. The precipitation outlook finds increased odds for above normal precipitation across the eastern half. No forecast is indicated for other areas of the state in either outlook. Due to information in those outlooks, the latest U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook from CPC for the month of November sees drought persisting across those areas in western Oklahoma where it exists today, but no expectations of development across eastern Oklahoma.