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Triple-digit temperatures return to Oklahoma

Several Oklahoma communities hit triple-digit temperatures Wednesday.
by Bryan Painter Published: April 26, 2012

Last year, the southwest Oklahoma town of Grandfield had 101 days of triple-digit high temperatures.

Wednesday, the town was dealt a reminder of the brutal heat of 2011, as Grandfield was among five southwest Oklahoma spots with official triple-digit high temperatures, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network.

Altus and Erick reached 105 degrees, which tied for the second-highest temperature recorded in Oklahoma during April, dating to 1893. Mangum has the record, with 106 degrees on April 12, 1972.

Terral Tatum, a 45-year-old, second-generation farmer who lives in Grandfield, said that while on-and-off rain starting last October brought some relief from drought conditions, it didn't wash away the effects of it, which possibly will linger for years.

The extreme heat definitely took its toll, Tatum said.

“Physically and mentally, it wore you down,” Tatum said. “It's a physical breakdown due to the heat and the dry weather and everything, but then there's just a little bit of a mental thing there, too.

“When this is your profession and you don't raise a crop, it beats you down.”

The summer of 2011 was the hottest in terms of statewide average for any state since records began in 1895, with a statewide average of 86.9 degrees.

Road to recovery?

Despite Wednesday's heat surge in the southwest part of the state, triple-digit temperatures in the month of April are rare in Oklahoma, said Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

Grandfield's first triple-digit high temperature in 2011 was 101 degrees on April 18. The last 100-degree day at Grandfield in 2011 was Sept. 13, when they reached 108 degrees. Grandfield returned to triple digits with a high of 103 degrees Wednesday.

Tatum said he's heard experts in agriculture say it may be a while before pastures get back to where they were before the drought, and that's with proper management. While some cattle producers sold their herds during the drought, others culled, or reduced, their herd size.

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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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