KGOU

Weather and Climate

Weather in Oklahoma can be extreme and dangerous. KGOU is committed to providing resources for being aware of the potential for weather events, continuous coverage when severe weather strikes, and a big-picture view of weather trends and topics.

Our partners in weather coverage are the National Weather Service for forecasts, experts at the National Weather Center, located at the campus of the University of Oklahoma, retired television weatherman and now OU's Consulting Meteorologist-in-Residence Gary England, and for severe weather outbreaks, KOCO-TV's live continuous coverage.

Researchers fly a copter drone near Enid, Oklahoma on May 16, 2017
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, could help scientists forecast where and when thunderstorms develop, before storm even occur. Experiments are ongoing, and optimism is high.

Meteorologist Rick Smith responds to messages on the National Weather Service Facebook account. On stormy days, the forecast office in Norman often receives messages every few minutes from people worried about tornadoes.
Nomin Ujiyediin / KGOU

When meteorologist Rick Smith was growing up in Memphis in the 1960s and '70s, he was terrified of tornadoes. When storms approached, he glued himself to the weather radio and TV, gathering as much information as he could. At night, he cowered in his parents’ bed, covering his ears to block out the sound.

“It was like this mysterious, loud monster at night that you just didn’t know exactly what it would do to you,” Smith said.

A tornado forms near Banner Road and Praire Circle in El Reno, Okla. on Friday, May 31, 2013.
Alonzo Adams / AP

The National Weather Service issued a preliminary rating for the tornado that hit Elk City last week as an EF-2. The tornado killed one person and destroyed over 40 homes.

Gary England, a consulting meteorologist-in-residence at the University of Oklahoma, says the Enhanced Fujita scale measures damage instead of wind. He says National Weather Service surveyors have to consider the location of damage, the type of damage and how affected houses are built.

Storms are dropping record rainfall in the Midwest. Tornadoes are also appearing in parts of the country where they don’t commonly touch down. There is major damage in western Wisconsin after a massive severe storm system traveled from the South Plains of Texas to the Great Lakes.

National Weather Service

A night of storms brought power outages and damage to trees, buildings and infrastructure to central Oklahoma--and it's not over yet.

The supercell that produced the damaging tornado at Elk City Tuesday evening.
Jeff Piotrowski / twisterchasers.com

Officials in Oklahoma are assessing damage after tornadoes hit the Western part of the state Tuesday evening.

One tornado touched down in Elk City in Beckham County, injuring at least 10 people and killing one.

 

Mesonet

A weekend of rain, hail and high winds has left its mark on Oklahoma.

 

National Weather Service

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency in response to a night of heavy storms that damaged power lines and homes across the state.

The state of emergency will last for 30 days and allows state agencies to make purchases that will contribute to disaster preparedness and relief, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

National Weather Service

Areas of central and southeastern Oklahoma could receive between 2 and 4 inches of rain today, and the National Weather Service is forecasting hail up to the size of golf balls. Winds up to 70 miles per hour are possible.

Risk Of Overnight Storms In Central, Eastern Oklahoma

Apr 20, 2017
National Weather Service

Severe storms on Thursday night and Friday could bring hail the size of golf balls to central and eastern Oklahoma.

 

The National Weather Service is forecasting the chance of severe storms with 60 to 70 mile-per-hour winds and the chance of hail, starting on Thursday at 10 p.m.  The storms may continue until 6 a.m. on Friday. 

 

In this May 19, 2010 file photo taken near Kingfisher, Okla., storm chasers and spectator vehicles clog the road and shoulder of Highway 81.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

 

Storm chasers continue to have a central role in documenting tornadoes, according to a leading Oklahoma meteorologist.

Gary England told KGOU that storm chasers give forecasters and meteorologists “eyes on the ground” that radars and other technological advances cannot provide. A human in the field sends back an immediate eye witness account of what is occurring during  storm, like a wall cloud, a funnel cloud or a tornado on the ground.

National Weather Service

Severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and flash floods are possible Tuesday and Tuesday night across most of Oklahoma.

The highest risk for severe storms will be in southwestern Oklahoma, including the communities of Lawton and Altus, where the chance is greatest for isolated supercells with large hail and possible tornadoes this afternoon and evening.

As the storms move east, the main threat will be damaging wind, though large hail and tornadoes will remain possible.

A tornado in Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9, 2016.
J.R. Hehnly / OKStorms.com

 

Oklahomans should brace for a storm season was an above-average number of tornadoes, according to meteorologist Gary England.

England told KGOU that a weak La Niña phenomena typically leads to an active tornado season.

“There’s been a bunch of years with a weak La Niña, we had a lot of tornadoes,” England said.

A weak La Niña occurs when temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are slightly below normal.
 

A burned field in northwestern Oklahoma.
Facebook/Oklahoma Forestry Services

 

 

A massive wildfire burned more than a thousand square miles earlier this month in northwestern Oklahoma, killing one person and countless animals, torching building and forcing evacuations. And this week, a fire in eastern Oklahoma has burned at least nine homes.

Woodward Department of Civil Defense and Homeland Security

Wildfires spread across larges swaths of northwestern Oklahoma Monday, leading to evacuation warnings for several towns.

Evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Laverne, Buffalo and Fort Supply in Woodward and Payne Counties. The evacuation order in Fort Supply only applied to community members and not to the William S. Key Correctional Center, according to Matt Lehenbaur, the emergency management director for the city of Woodward.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Frigid temperatures never fully took hold in Oklahoma this winter. February saw record high temperatures, and instead of ice and snow, wildfires were the main weather-related concern, and drought — though improved — has persisted across much of the state.

In a statement summarizing February’s weather highlights and looking ahead to March, State Climatologist Gary McManus says the first two months of 2017 broke the record for the warmest combined January and February in state history.

Bambi bucket helping to gain control over this massive grass fire.
Oklahoma City Fire Department

Emergency management officials have issued an evacuation order for a Sunday afternoon wildfire that has burned 877 acres in south-southeast Oklahoma City.

The fire isolated south of Southeast 134th and Southeast 149th between Air Depot and Midwest Boulevard. The fire is moving to the south.

Oklahoma City Emergency Management is asking residents south of Southeast 149th Southeast 179th or Indian Hills Road, and from Sooner Road to Midwest Boulevard, to leave the area. Officials request people leave to the south and then go to the east or west.

National Weather Service

Areas of northwestern Oklahoma will continue to  see more freezing rain Sunday, while residents in southern and central Oklahoma may see a line of severe storms bring rainfall of up to 1.5 inches in some areas.

The National Weather Service has extended an Ice Storm Warning for northwest Oklahoma until 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening. Meteorologists say ice will continue to accumulate on trees and power lines, and surface temperatures have not risen above the freezing point.

Atoka Lake in southeast Oklahoma is in the middle of the state's most drought affected area.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Drought is back in Oklahoma. More than half the state now falls in the extreme drought category, and normally water-rich southeast Oklahoma is bearing the brunt of a very dry fall and winter.

Tree stumps poke above Atoka Lake’s surface, and it’s easy to see where the water line used to reach. In early 2016, lake levels were high. But now, Atoka is in the bullseye of the worst of Oklahoma’s current drought. Atoka Emergency Manager Derrick Mixon says last week’s snowstorm didn’t help much.

National Weather Service

A dangerous winter storm will bear down on parts of Oklahoma and north Texas, beginning on Friday and continuing until Sunday. Significant ice accumulation is expected, which will cause dangerous travel conditions and downed trees, and the potential for power outages.

Some areas of northwestern Oklahoma, including Woodward, could receive up to one inch of ice. Parts of central Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma City metro, may receive anywhere between 0.1 to 0.25 inch of ice.

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