Year may be the warmest on record
With one month left, it is possible this calendar year will emerge as Oklahoma's warmest on record in terms of statewide average temperature.
Thursday, Gary McManus, with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said it looked like 2012 would be a few 10ths of a degree warmer through November than for the same months in 1954. If so, December will just need to finish a bit above normal to allow 2012 to top 1954's statewide record average of 62.8 degrees.
January, March, April and May each were significantly above normal and propelled 2012 to a commanding lead towards potentially the warmest year in Oklahoma.
After the warmest spring on record for the state, the summer ranked as the 12th-warmest on record.
“The drought had a lot to do with that, and conversely the heat had a lot to do with the drought intensification we saw from May through August,” McManus said. “October was actually below normal by a degree or so, but the warmth returned in November.
“While it has cooled down lately, November is going to end up significantly warm. And the heat is not expected to stop there. Near record-breaking temperatures could be in store for the state as we enter December this weekend.”
Q: Thoughts on this drought and the warm temperatures this year?
A: When you look at the intensity of the drought right now, there is little hope for complete recovery until we see spring. December through February is easily our driest time of the year, and so drought-busting moisture is normally not in the works. Last year's significant rains were the anomaly, not the norm. So as we enter spring, we will most likely still be in drought. It is absolutely vital that we see a more normal springtime rainy season this year after the misfires of the last two years. Any hint of another interrupted rainy season that leaves drought in place as we approach the warm season will result in the likelihood of a full three years of drought going up considerably. The outlooks for spring from the Climate Prediction Center are continuing to show increased odds of below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures. That would obviously be disastrous, but that period is still a long ways off, and the outlook could easily change by then.
Q: Any outlook for the 2012-13 winter?
A: All the big climate indicators are pointing to another warm winter at this time, but that could change pretty rapidly. The big wild card is the Arctic oscillation, which has been held partly responsible from climate experts for some of those record-setting winter storms and cold outbreaks of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 winters. Unfortunately, that climate index is tough to forecast out past a couple of weeks. As for precipitation, there's just not much of a climate signal pointing to above- or below-normal amounts right now. However, just going by climatology, we have to acknowledge that winter is our driest time of the year.
Q: Do you have additional thoughts on this drought?A: All hope is not lost. Mother Nature hasn't written these gloomy forecasts in permanent marker just yet. But we always need to remember the big droughts lurking in our past ... the 1930s Dust Bowl drought and the 1950s drought. People often ask if we are seeing another of those decade-scale droughts, and the answer is “we don't know.” The folks that lived through the first two years of those droughts probably didn't realize it either, however.