Weather and Climate

Bernice swimming area closed
4:14 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

High Levels Of Bacteria Found At Grand Lake State Park

Credit Kelly / Flickr.com

Officials say the swimming area at Grand Lake State Park in northeastern Oklahoma will remain closed through at least Friday after an unsafe level of E.coli was detected in the water.

Grand River Dam Authority spokesman Justin Alberty says more tests of the Bernice swimming area showed elevated levels of the bacteria. Alberty tells Tulsa television station KJRH that more water samples will be taken Friday.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:07 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Oklahoma Attorney General Ready To Fight EPA Proposal To Cut Carbon Emissions

The OG&E Power Plant In Muskogee.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency on Monday announced an ambitious plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at existing coal-fired power plants across the country as part of President Barack Obama’s push to curb climate change.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt blasted the move, saying in a statement the plan “has no legal basis or the force of law.”

“It will undoubtedly lead to higher electricity rates, job losses and increased manufacturing costs as coal-fired power plants, which provide 40 percent of our baseload power, are taken offline,” Pruitt says.

But officials with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Oklahoma says keeping the current rules unchanged will be more costly because communities are already paying to deal with carbon pollution-fueled “climate disruption,” like flooding, wildfires and extreme heat.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
6:30 am
Mon June 2, 2014

2011 Joplin Tornado Served As Wake Up Call For School Officials

Irving Elementary School in Joplin, Mo. is one of several public school buildings damaged or destroyed by a 2011 tornado. Since the storm hit on Sunday, no one was inside the buildings.
Credit Gail Banzet-Ellis

Two years ago, a violent tornado hit Joplin, Mo. at a time when children were not in their classrooms. If the day and time had been different, that community could have become known for students killed by a storm, instead of Moore, Okla.

That near miss caused officials with the Joplin schools to look at storm shelters in a new light.

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many areas remain in drought conditions
6:12 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

State Burn Ban To Expire Next Wednesday, June 4

Credit U.S. Fish And Wildlife / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin says a state burn ban in 36 counties will be allowed to expire because of rainfall during the past week.

Fallin said Thursday that the ban she issued on May 5 will be allowed to expire next Wednesday.

The governor said in a release she doesn't expect to renew the burn ban for any county — but said county commissioners should issue a ban for their county if they believe it is appropriate.

Many areas remain in extreme drought and all 77 county commissions have authority to declare countywide burn bans should conditions warrant.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:21 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Drought In Southwest Oklahoma Dented But Not Dead After Days Of Rain

Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

The latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor shows some improvement in the hardest hit part of the state — southwest Oklahoma — after a very wet Memorial Day weekend.

Drovers CattleNetwork’s Angela Bowman looked at the impact recent rains have had across the southern plains, and found that while the last week helped, it won’t take long for drought to fully reassert itself, and it’s too late for the state’s wheat crop:

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Red Cross Program Teaches Emergency Preparedness To Kids Affected By 2013 Tornadoes

Red Cross worker Shannon Reed leads a class of Soldier Creek Elementary fifth graders in practicing a tornado drill. The Red Cross is visiting schools throughout the region, including this one in Midwest City, to teach
Jason Colston/American Red Cross

During tornado season, preparedness is key. Phrases like “Don’t be scared, be prepared” populate Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites when there’s a severe weather threat. One organization is now taking steps to ensure kids also know what to do when weather rolls in.

Shannon Reed is a Community Resiliency Specialist with the Red Cross. Last month, she spent a day in a gymnasium at Carney Elementary School, teaching kids about severe weather.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:35 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Oklahoma’s Drought-Withered Wheat Harvest Could Have National Effects

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Four years of extreme drought has withered the agricultural economies of southern Great Plains states like Oklahoma, where farmers are bracing for one of worst wheat crops in state history.

And Oklahoma’s withered wheat harvest could have national consequences.

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Severe Storms
1:21 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

12 Things You May Not Know About The 2013 Moore Tornado

Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the May 20, 2013 tornado that killed 24 residents in Moore, injured hundreds, and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.

To mark the occasion, the Norman Forecast Office of the National Weather Service put together a presentation highlighting a dozen observations from the 2013 storms in the community also hard-hit by strong, violent tornadoes in May 1999 and May 2013.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:47 am
Mon May 19, 2014

City Of Duncan Water Rationing Unchanged As Waurika Lake Withers

From the latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, showing most of western Oklahoma in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst categories.
U.S. Drought Monitor

In October 2013, Waurika Lake, a source of water for Lawton, Duncan, and surrounding communities in southwest Oklahoma, was at 44 percent of its conservation pool. As of Tuesday, the water level was at 39.53 percent, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Neighbors Find Comfort In Community After 2013 Moore Tornado

Tornado Survivors Alise Newby and Micah Moody find comfort in being neighbors after their homes were destroyed May 20, 2013
Kate Carlton

One year ago this week, a deadly EF-5 tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma, taking the lives of 24 people and destroying over 1,100 homes. For many people, this week marks a painful reminder of the damage. For others, the year anniversary is an opportunity to put the devastation behind them with the support of their peers. 

Alise Newby lived right across from Plaza Towers Elementary School last year when the tornado leveled both the school and her house. She isn’t from Oklahoma, so she wasn’t exactly sentimental when it came to finding a new home outside of the devastated town.

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