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Weather and Climate

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.

National Weather Service

A slow moving winter storm is forecast to move into Oklahoma early Friday morning and linger in the state through the weekend. The National Weather Service in Norman has issued a Winter Storm Watch which will be in effect from Friday morning until Sunday. Heavy rainfall, rain, freezing rain, and a mixture of freezing rain and rain are all expected and may disrupt travel this weekend.

National Weather Service

A winter storm that blanketed much of Oklahoma with snow during the overnight hours has led schools and businesses across the region to close for Friday.

 

The University of Oklahoma's Norman campus and Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City announced they would close for the day, as well as many schools district such as Oklahoma City, Moore and Norman.

 

By 7 a.m. a cold front is expected to be well south of I-40. Temperatures will be falling into the 20s and 30s behind the front, with 50s ahead of the front across southern Oklahoma and western north Texas.
Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

A highly-anticipated cold front will likely bring the first bout of wintry weather to Oklahoma starting this weekend.

During an early morning briefing Friday from the National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office, meteorologist Ryan Barnes said Saturday's high temperature will likely occur during the morning hours for most locations as the cold front pushes south during the day.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The latest map by the U.S. Drought Monitor shows two-fifths percent of Oklahoma is in moderate to severe drought, but the state's agriculture industry isn't concerned just yet.

Forecasters expect higher-than-average temperatures through November. However, a familiar pattern could spell trouble if the warm, dry conditions persist into the spring. That’s how the five-year drought started in 2011, The Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the longest continually published periodical in American history. It turns 225 years old with the 2017 edition, which is on newsstands now.

It’s filled with the usual blend of advice, recipes and nuggets of knowledge that readers have come to expect over the years.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson speaks with Janice Stillman, the almanac’s editor, about the milestone.

Interview Highlights: Janice Stillman

On farmer’s almanacs in general

National Weather Service

An excessive heat warning is still in effect for parts of north central and northeastern Oklahoma, and much of the state is under a heat advisory as temperatures in upper 90s continue to grip the state. Heat index values in some areas could reach as high as 113 degrees. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa could see heat indices in the triple digits.

The excessive heat warning will be in effect until 8:00 p.m. Friday evening. The heat advisory will be active until 8:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Oklahomans will face temperatures in the high 90s and heat index values near 110 degrees.
National Weather Service

Forecasters from the National Weather Service in Norman say dangerous heat will grip much of the state for the next few days. Parts of north-central and northeastern Oklahoma – including the metro areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa - are in an excessive heat warning until 8:00 p.m. on Friday. Temperatures in the upper 90s are expected, with afternoon heat index values between 110 and 115. The entire state, except the Oklahoma Panhandle and far western counties bordering the Texas Panhandle, is under a heat advisory.

Wheat farmer Fred Schmedt stands in one of his family's fields south of Altus, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Heavy rains delayed the 2016 wheat harvest in Oklahoma, but the yield could be better than recent years. Many farmers, however, are still making up losses from a drought that climatologists warn could be returning.

It’s a hot, dry and relatively windless day south of Altus in southwest Oklahoma. Eight to 11 inches of rain has fallen in the area over the last few weeks, and Fred Schmedt is on his cell phone trying to keep large trucks and tractor-trailers off his field.

Mason Bolay on his family's farm near Perry in north-central Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

After one of the driest periods on record, 2015 was the wettest year ever in Oklahoma, and the rain still hasn’t let up. But scientists say climate conditions are aligning in a way that could bring drought back to the state.

Out Of Drought

Mason Bolay doesn’t have a lot of time to talk about whether he’s prepared for the next drought. He needs to finish the daily work on his family’s farm outside Perry in north-central Oklahoma before the next thunderstorm moves in.

Tornado Town, USA

May 27, 2016

Four devastating tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma, in 16 years. FiveThirtyEight's senior science writer Maggie Koerth-Baker investigates whether central Oklahoma's geography plays a role, or if it's simply bad luck.

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

Another round of severe weather could hit western and central Oklahoma this afternoon and evening.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Tornado Watch across all of western Oklahoma and parts of north-central Oklahoma until 10:00 p.m. tonight. Several rounds of storms are expected in the watch area today.

 

Meteorologist Todd Lindley with the National Weather Service in Norman says today's forecast is fluid, especially with regards to when and where storms will threaten.

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

Oklahoma could be in for another round of severe weather Tuesday.

A strong, tornado-warned thunderstorm that moved through Payne and Noble counties Tuesday afternoon destroyed a mobile home and downed power lines near the town of Morrison, Payne County Emergency Management Director Dave Lester said.

A tornado touches down near Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9, 2016.
Hayden Mahan

The Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City is bustling with activity on a sunny day as people push strollers, walk dogs and feed the ducks. It’s a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon right now, but it’s springtime in Oklahoma, so the weather can change at any time.

“When it starts raining, is when I start looking at the messages,” Devonte Thibodeax said as walked along the garden’s waterway with Michaela Schweiger.

“If my iPhone does those alerts, where it goes off, that’s when we know something is actually happening,” Schweiger said.

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