So what kind of winter lies ahead for Oklahoma?

Weather experts prepare for annual question about seasonal change. They say winter difficult to predict and there is no correlation between weather of one season and another.
by Bryan Painter Modified: September 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm •  Published: September 21, 2013
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Although autumn begins Sunday, the questions started some time ago.

With summer gone and winter ahead, weather experts are accustomed to questions that go something like, “Does a mild summer mean a harsh winter?”

Gary McManus said climatologists at the Oklahoma Climatological Survey in Norman get those questions a lot. And when they do, they try to stress the lack of correlation between the weather of one season and another, McManus said.

Certainly Oklahoma's climate can start heading in one direction and stay that way for a while. Between April 2010 and January 2013, 28 of those 34 months were warmer than normal.

“Unfortunately, most were drier than normal as well,” McManus said. “A change in our climate beginning in mid-February has meant a much milder and wetter period since. But even within those two stretches, variability was still present.”

First freeze

Autumn means the return of the jet stream to this area of the nation and sometimes more interesting weather along with it, he said. It's a transition season, as the weather in Oklahoma typically goes from heat in September to the sometimes brutal cold of late November and December.

In Oklahoma, the first freezes often occur from mid-October in the Panhandle to the first week of November along the Red River.

“Snow and ice can be seen as early as Halloween, but there is a much greater chance of the frozen stuff closer to Thanksgiving,” McManus said. “The weather gets drier the later into autumn that we travel, but some of our biggest rains have occurred in September and October thanks to stalled cold fronts and the remnants of tropical systems.”

The 40th anniversary of Oklahoma's greatest 24-hour rainfall is approaching. That was the 15.68 inches that fell at Enid, referred to as the Oct. 11, 1973, Enid flood. The rain actually began the previous evening and continued into the morning hours.

McManus said the state's wettest month on record remains October 1941, with a statewide average of 11.32 inches.

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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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