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.

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

The National Weather Service says it’s starting to get a better idea of the timing of severe storms expected to hit the state Saturday and Sunday.

Thunderstorms will start to develop late afternoon and early evening Saturday in far southwestern Oklahoma, moving northeast overnight into Sunday.

Large, damaging hail and damaging winds are the primary concern, but tornadoes are possible.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is known for its wild weather. And now, the state’s variable climate is helping scientists understand how climate change could affect farms everywhere.

Jamin Yeager / Aerial Oklahoma

As the state prepares for another round of severe weather Saturday, city officials in Moore are worried about residents taking shelter in a local movie theater that held up well during the May 20, 2013 tornado.

“People think that the Warren Theatre is magic,” said National Severe Storms Laboratory senior scientist Harold Brooks. “The Warren Theatre was basically not hit by the tornado. It survived [as well as] it did because it didn't get hit by the tornado.”

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

Updated April 23, 2014 at 3:17 p.m.

Scattered severe storms could develop along a dry line developing over the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle Wednesday, but National Weather Service meteorologists are starting to predict the possibility of a more significant severe weather threat this weekend.

Forecaster Marc Austin says the main hazards Wednesday consist of baseball-sized hail, and damaging 70-80 mile-per-hour wind gusts.


Kate Carlton

It’s been nearly a year since a series of tornadoes devastated central Oklahoma, destroying homes, parks and commercial buildings. During the recovery process, construction crews gathered over 300,000 tons of debris between just Oklahoma City and Moore. 

Jeff Bedick is the District Manager for Waste Connections, which operates a landfill in west Oklahoma City. The facility sits on 200 acres, which mostly just looks like a giant, grass-covered hill on the side of the highway.

Kate Carlton

In the year since tornadoes ripped through Moore, there’s been no shortage of media coverage of teachers and students at Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools, as they’ve recovered from the storm and adapted to a “new normal.” 

But what about the kids that graduated and left? Some of them feel like they’ve fallen through the cracks. 

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

Western and Central Oklahoma could see a round of severe weather over the weekend. There's a threat of showers and thunderstorms Saturday west of a line extending from Altus to Alva.

But National Weather Service senior forecaster Michael Scotten says there's a higher chance for that weather to move southeast through Central Oklahoma on Sunday.

benchilada / Flickr Creative Commons

About a month ago, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court heard the case of Take Shelter Oklahoma vs. Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

The school shelter advocacy group filed suit against Pruitt, claiming he tried to sabotage their effort to put a $500 million bond issue on an upcoming ballot. 

The high court ruled last week, and the decision seemed to be a compromise, but not everyone was happy. 

Severe Storms Forecast For Oklahoma Tuesday

Apr 2, 2014
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Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

Oklahomans are facing their first significant risk for tornadoes of the spring storm season. The National Weather Service says the potential for severe thunderstorms increases Tuesday afternoon. If storms develop they are likely to be severe.

While the storms will be fairly isolated, forecasters say conditions for severe weather will become more favorable through the day. What the weather service calls “significant severe storms” are possible mainly between 4-10 p.m.

Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

The Oklahoma Supreme Court says a ballot title written by the attorney general's office for an initiative to place storm shelters in Oklahoma public schools is legally correct but gave proponents more time to gather signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

The high court ruled Tuesday that proponents of the initiative petition, State Question 767, have 90 days to collect the signatures needed to get the measure on the election ballot. Supporters need the signatures of about 155,000 registered voters to get on the ballot.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

There’s little doubt Oklahomans will be more sensitive and more concerned than usual as the spring storm season approaches after the devastating events of May 2013. Dozens of people died as three violent tornadoes tore across Pottawatomie, Canadian and Cleveland counties within a two-week span.

Since September, KGOU has been working to prepare for severe weather in 2014 with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On March 12, we hosted a panel discussion about tornado preparedness and storm safety at the Moore Public Library, just a few hundred yards from where the May 20 twister crossed Interstate 35.

We learned six things you need to know to prepare for the 2014 tornado season:

New Severe Weather Warning System Comes To Oklahoma

Mar 31, 2014
National Weather Service

Meteorologists are really good at understanding all sorts of complicated weather-related jargon. But when severe storms are in the forecast, it’s important to communicate those threats in a way that people can easily understand. 

The National Weather Service has been testing a new, simpler approach in different parts of the country, and last week, they introduced their system to Oklahoma. 

One of the upsides to the seemingly endless winter of 2014 was that you had time to think.

And to ask futuristic questions, such as: What will the American Winter of 2114 be like?

Here are some of the answers.

Kate Carlton / Oklahoma Tornado Project

During spring break, most college kids escape school and work for a simpler life at the beach. But sometimes, groups of teenagers and 20-somethings venture away from the sand and into the dirt. 

One Oklahoma group has decided to use those students to revitalize areas of Moore affected by the May 20 tornado. 

Spending your spring break planting trees in a muddy park thousands of miles from your home may not sound like the most relaxing and rewarding way to spend a week. 18-year-old Tyler Lawson from Connecticut realizes he’s working a lot harder than many of his classmates.

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

The National Weather Service issued a report Friday examining last May's tornados in Oklahoma. The assessment encourages the Norman Forecast Office to develop a plan for more than one severe weather event at a time.

On May 31, eight people died in the El Reno tornado while 13 died from flash flooding that followed heavy rain. National Weather Service Meteorologist Kenneth Harding says each element of a multiple warning system should be weighted based upon its urgency and severity.

Moore Approves Tornado Resistant Building Codes

Mar 18, 2014
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The City of Moore is adopting stricter building codes intended to reduce the damage from high winds. The new regulations should strengthen homes against tornado damage.

The codes approved by the Moore City Council Monday would require hurricane straps that connect the roof of a home to the wall studs. The rules also add anchors that tie the frame to the foundation, continuous plywood bracing and garage doors built to withstand high winds.

Sounding The Social Media Alarm During Severe Weather

Mar 17, 2014
Harold Brooks, Rick Smith and Michelann Ooten speak about storm safety at The Oklahoma Tornado Project's March 12, 2014 forum.
Kate Carlton / Oklahoma Tornado Project

With tornado season approaching, many Oklahomans will turn to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to stay informed of the latest hazards. 

Use of these outlets explodes during severe weather outbreaks, as people try to disseminate information, share pictures and update each other on the course of the storm. But despite their ability to quickly deliver breaking news, social media can often contribute to spreading outdated information. 

Oklahoma House To Hear School Shelter Proposal

Mar 10, 2014
gtquast / Flickr

Last month, a proposal to fund school shelter construction using property taxes passed a State House committee. It was the only shelter bill the House of Representatives heard, and it’s supported by Governor Mary Fallin. 

This week, lawmakers may vote to put it on the November ballot. 

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

An Oklahoma judge says Farmers Insurance and a subsidiary must pay a total of $15 million to three plaintiffs whose homes were damaged in the 2012 Woodward tornado.

District Judge Ray Dean Linder ruled in favor of three plaintiffs who filed breach of contract lawsuits against Farmers Insurance and Foremost Insurance Group. The lawsuit alleged that the insurance companies underpaid claims and used adjusters that they knew would offer low estimates.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map of Oklahoma as of February 25, 2014.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Save for a tiny corner of far southeast Oklahoma, the entire state is either abnormally dry, or already in drought.

Areas of severe, extreme, and exceptional drought, the worst categories, are still confined to the western part of the state, with far southwest Oklahoma suffering the most. But the latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor show moderate drought conditions moving east and into Oklahoma City.

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