Weather and Climate

StateImpact Oklahoma
1:28 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Most Of The State Abnormally Dry As Drought Creeps East Into Oklahoma City

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map of Oklahoma as of February 25, 2014.
Credit 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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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

A Battle Of Words: School Shelter Hearing Goes To State Supreme Court

Take Shelter Oklahoma spent Fall 2013 gathering signatures for its initiative petition and State Question 767. The group fell short by more than 30,000.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

When the school shelter advocacy group Take Shelter Oklahoma formed several months ago, its goal was simple: to obtain enough signatures to get a $500 million bond issue on the ballot and use that money to build safe rooms in schools to protect kids from tornadoes. 

The group’s path has become a winding one, the most recent turn was at the State Supreme Court in a fight against Attorney General Scott Pruitt. 

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Meetings start in March
4:45 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Oklahoma Water Resources Board To Hold Public Meetings

Credit fox_kiyo / Flickr.com

State water officials have announced a series of public meetings across the state on various water conservation plans designed to mitigate water use over the next 50 years.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board, which is hosting the meetings, announced the dates Monday. They will be held March 11 at the Oklahoma Panhandle State University campus in Goodwell, March 12 at the Quartz Mountain Resort near Altus, and March 13 at the Simmons Center in Duncan. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Taxing Times For Oklahoma Tornado Survivors

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak speaks at a tax forum for tornado survivors.
Credit Kate Carlton

While many view tax season as a nuisance, it can be especially frustrating for people struggling to rebound from disasters, like the deadly tornadoes that swept through the state last May.  

Some residents of central Oklahoma lost homes, cars and old tax documents, so they’re confused and unsure how to proceed, and that’s left many tornado alley taxpayers with lots of questions. 

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May 2013 Tornado Outbreak
9:54 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Reporter's Notebook: Poor Construction Techniques Doomed Moore Elementary Schools

Gov. Mary Fallin at Plaza Towers elementary school following the May 20, 2013 Moore, Okla. tornado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

Friday’s edition of The Journal Record reveals improper construction and violation of building codes led to the destruction of two Moore, Okla. elementary schools when a tornado hit May 20, 2013.

KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney talked with the reporter, M. Scott Carter, who obtained a soon-to-be released report showing a shocking lack of standard building practices in both Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Experts Say School Tornado Days Could Cause More Harm Than Good

Tornado damaged classroom in the Plaza Towers Elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma. An F5 tornado struck the area on May 20, causing widespread destruction.
Credit Andrea Booher / FEMA

The death of seven students in the tornado that hit Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary School last May has ignited an ongoing debate about storm shelters and school safety.

State lawmakers and advocacy groups are calling for better school construction to protect kids from future storms, and some people are now also raising questions about whether they should simply keep their kids home when severe weather is in the forecast. 

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May 2013 Tornado Outbreak
12:31 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

VIDEO: Lessons From El Reno As NWS Trains New Spotters

The National Weather Service unveiled a new training video Wednesday for storm spotters and chasers with the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the tragedy that followed the May 31, 2013 tornado near El Reno.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:28 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Oil Boom Keeping Western Oklahoma Towns Afloat Amid Worsening Drought

Credit Al Jazeera English / Flickr Creative Commons

Drought and agriculture don’t mix very well. So after three years of intense drought, you might expect rural western Oklahoma communities — where fortunes have traditionally hinged on the condition of wheat crops — to be dying on the vine.

But no. As The Journal Record‘s Brian Brus reports, many of these towns are adapting to a new economy with a little help from the oil and gas industry.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Fallin Introduces Storm Shelter Plan Amid Lawsuit From Shelter Advocacy Group

Governor Mary Fallin tours the Plaza Elementary School site days after the May 20 Moore tornado
Credit The National Guard

In her State of the State address last week, Gov. Mary Fallin discussed her plan to build storm shelters in schools across the state. The speech came the same day a school shelter advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the governor for not promptly responding to its open records request. Fallin’s apparent change of course is not unusual, but its timing has raised some eyebrows.   

When Danni Legg entered the Governor’s office last week, she was looking for answers.

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Tornado
9:44 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Texas, Oklahoma Top Nation's Tornado Numbers

The May 19, 2013 tornado that hit parts of Edmond, Okla.
Credit Mike Prendergast / SkyWatcherMedia.com

Texas and Oklahoma led the nation in the number of tornadoes last year. Oklahoma's 79 was well above the state's average of 57.

Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, told the Tulsa World newspaper the national total of 898 tornadoes was well below normal, which is about 1,000.

Florida, Kansas and Texas typically each have more tornadoes per year than Oklahoma. Texas had 81 last year.

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