Oklahoma had no shortage of weather in 2012

Rick Smith, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman, said that as a meteorologist and scientist, “it's easy to look at the numbers and stats and say that 2012 was relatively quiet compared to the previous two years.”
by Bryan Painter Published: December 31, 2012
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A look back at Oklahoma's weather in 2012 requires more than a glance.

Rick Smith, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman, said that as a meteorologist and scientist, “it's easy to look at the numbers and stats and say that 2012 was relatively quiet compared to the previous two years.”

“But for the people impacted by that weather, this will be the worst year ever,” Smith said. “Of the tornadoes we had this year, we only had one EF3 tornado in the state, but that one tornado hit a populated area when most people in Woodward were sleeping, and six people died.

“And of course, the drought continued to be a big story again in 2012.”

The close look at Oklahoma's weather in 2012 shows that a lot happened or will have occurred by month's end.

This will likely be the Oklahoma's warmest year on record in terms of statewide average temperature. The January through November statewide average temperature was 64.9 degrees, 0.2 degrees ahead of 1954, the current record-holder, said Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

McManus expects this year will maintain enough of a lead to finish ahead of 1954's annual average of 62.8 degrees.

There was also extreme heat at times. On Aug. 1, the Oklahoma Mesonet station at Kingfisher recorded a high temperature of 115. That was not a state record for maximum temperature, which is 120 recorded on several days.

However, on Aug. 4, one temperature record was set and another tied for Oklahoma City. On the morning of Aug. 4, the temperature never dipped below 84, establishing the warmest low since record keeping began in 1891.

That afternoon, a reading of 113 at Will Rogers World Airport matched Aug. 11, 1936, for the hottest official temperature ever recorded in Oklahoma City.

In 2011 there was a balance between really hot and really dry. This year, while the extreme heat was off and on, the drought remained a constant.

The drought

“The biggest story in my eyes was the re-emergence and re-intensification of drought conditions in late spring and then through the rest of the year,” McManus said.

“We had seen such great relief for much of the state through the winter and early spring that I thought we were on our way back from the horrible impacts of 2011.”

The statewide average rainfall total from January through April was the 16th-wettest such period on record since 1895. However, the statewide average rainfall since May 1 is 12.9 inches, the driest such period on record.

Some portion of Oklahoma has been under at least moderate drought since Oct. 26, 2010, according to U.S. Drought Monitor reports.

“The drought in 2012 added another estimated $400 million in agricultural damages to the $1.6 billion in 2011,” McManus said. “That's a $2 billion-plus disaster, and still growing. It's also extremely important to remember that while we talk of the drought intensifying once again in late spring, for parts of far western Oklahoma, it never really went away. For those folks, they've basically spent 26 straight months dealing with drought and its impacts.”

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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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