OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The average daily temperature for the first five months of 2012 has been the hottest on record in Oklahoma, and drought is creeping back into the state a year after a summer that broke national and state records for heat, an official with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey said Wednesday.
The January-May statewide average of 56.3 degrees was 5.2 degrees above normal in records that date to 1895, said Gary McManus, associate state climatologist.
The average daily temperature for spring, the months of March, April and May, according to the Climatological Survey, was also the warmest on record at 65.1 degrees, 6 degrees above normal and more than 2 degrees above the previous mark for spring of 62.9 degrees set in 2006.
“As we're entering summer, the heat and the possible return of drought is probably the biggest concern right now,” McManus said.
Severe to extreme drought conditions were reported in the Oklahoma Panhandle and far northwestern and southwestern Oklahoma by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The eastern two-thirds of the state were rated as abnormally dry.
Rain that began falling earlier in the week was expected to continue through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, helping somewhat ease the drought conditions.
“The one great equalizer we have to combat that summer heat is rainfall. If we can keep that rainfall up we could avoid the excessive temperatures this summer,” McManus said.