Oklahomans should brace for another long, hot summer

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 5, 2012
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Say it ain't so!

The hottest summer on record in Oklahoma has been followed by the warmest spring. The month just ended was one of the warmest and driest Mays. Oklahoma had the warmest March on record and the 10th-warmest April.

We thought we might be out of the weather woods. Clearly we're not. Hot air records continue to be broken, tied or nearly so. A trend that began in early 2010 — higher temperatures and less precipitation — hasn't reversed.

Two months ago, only a small portion of Oklahoma showed up on the U.S. Drought Monitor map. At the end of May, most of the state was back on the drought map, albeit in the “abnormally dry” (least severe) category.

The skies have diverted our attention from the dry heat, with hailstorms, high winds and isolated tornadoes. The real weather story, and one that will affect public policy decisions and may strain resources, is drought.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center says June through August will likely have above-normal temperatures. The outlook for rain is cloudier. Which is to say the prognosticators aren't sure how much rain will fall this summer. An El Nino event could develop this autumn and bring cooler, wetter weather next winter.

Memories of the horrible summer of 2011 were starting to fade, but it won't take much to revive them. Toward the end of that summer came the inferno of suburban brushfires. It will likely happen again if current weather trends continue. Emergency management officials are monitoring conditions. They should be preparing for a repeat of last summer.

So must we all, “weather” or not we want to. Climatological summer has begun even if the Summer Solstice is three weeks out.


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