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More about winter from Gary McManus, state climatologist

by Bryan Painter Modified: February 11, 2014 at 9:50 am •  Published: February 11, 2014
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Winter. It keeps going and going and going …

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/ok-winter.jpg

Another day, another 24 hours spent below freezing for most of the state. Things have gotten so bad we’re looking at our Mesonet station at Hinton possibly breaking the all-time Mesonet record for consecutive hours below zero.  Check out the map of consecutive hours below freezing.

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/cumulative.freeze.consecutive.gif

Hinton is already up to 232 hours, and quite a few other stations across the northwestern half of the state are above 170 hours. Vinita and Miami hold the top two spots in the all-time consecutive hours below freezing record for the Mesonet (temperature data goes back to 1997) at 282.3 and 260.6 hours, respectively.

Those records were set between Dec. 23, 2000-Jan. 4, 2001 (January 3rd for Miami).

Luckily, it doesn’t appear Hinton is going to make it another 50 hours to claim the top spot. The NWS office in Norman predicts Hinton will finally make it above freezing sometime around 11 a.m. tomorrow. That would take them up to, let’s see … all my fingers and toes, ought from naught, etc., about 258 consecutive hours below freezing. That’s a heckuva long time!

But even as it continues to snow today (up to 3 inches possible in southern

Oklahoma)

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/nws-norman-snow.jpg

we look ahead to tomorrow and later in the week for a return to normal-to-above- normal temperatures.

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/wednesday-highs.pnghttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/thursday-highs.pnghttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/friday-highs.pnghttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/saturday-highs.png

That good fortune (come on … even the most ardent winter-loving folks have to be tired of it by now!) should continue into the weekend as well. 60s and 70s this weekend? Count me in!

We can always remember last winter a bit more fondly now that this one has trudged on (with a bit of an interruption here and there during January). These are maps of the hours below freezing from November 1-February 11 (at 9 a.m.) for the last two years. You can see that this year has been an order of magnitude worse for the below freezing metric, often doubling what we saw last year in most areas.

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/hours-below-freezing-2012-13.pnghttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/hours-below-freezing-2013-14.png

Even last February, however, winter was about to hit the fan right about Valentine’s Day, and we’ve generally been cooler than normal ever since. Even more interesting, we can look at the whole winter and then some back in 2011-12 and it won’t come close to matching up. Here’s the map fro November 1, 2011, all the way out to May 1, 2012. Some places spent less than 200 hours below freezing, and only got down to the low 20s all winter. Very few even got out of the teens!

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/Nov1_2011-May1_2012-below-freezing.png

So when we talk about this year’s cold winter, we really mean it!

As far as the longer-range forecast, it appears the warmth might stick around awhile, but it also looks to get dry again as well. Here are the 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from the CPC showing increased odds of above normal temps and below normal precip for Oklahoma, at least out through the third week of February.

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/feb16-20-precip.gifhttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/feb16-20-temps.gifhttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/feb18-24-precip.gifhttp://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/feb18-24-temps.gif

The next seven days should see an end to the moisture as well, so enjoy that snow while you have it, or at least the moisture as it melts.

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/7day-precip-forecast.gif

This is the sum total of what we have received over the last 10 days with this multitude of winter storms. Unfortunately, despite all the slippery stuff, still sorely lacking in moisture considering the drought conditions strengthening across the northwestern half of the state.

http://ticker.mesonet.org/archive/20140211/10day-moisture-totals.png

A return to fire danger, like during January? Only time will tell.


by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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