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.

Gov. Mary Fallin meets with cabinet secretaries and emergency management officials at the state Capitol Tuesday to discuss May storm damage.
GovMaryFallin / Twitter

Damage from May’s severe storms could exceed $150 million.

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood and Gov. Mary Fallin met Tuesday and updated reporters and the public on the progress of the recovery and assessments in 70 counties that have reported storm-related damage.

Fallin has declared a state of emergency in all 77 Oklahoma counties, and $13 million in infrastructure damage to roads, bridges, and other facilities has already been recorded.

The memorial to the seven children who died May 20, 2013 at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Oklahomans are now finally starting to dry out after May brought as much as two feet of rain to some parts of the state. The tornadoes and flooding that have killed dozens in this state and its southern neighbor last month were a reminder of how cruel May can be when warming temperatures and moist Gulf air collide over the nation's midsection.

30-day rainfall totals from Oklahoma Mesonet stations as of May 31, 2015.
Oklahoma Mesonet

No surprise here - May went down as the wettest month in Oklahoma history.

The final statewide average rainfall for May was 14.4 inches. State climatologist Gary McManus said that's nearly 9.6 inches above normal, and obliterated the 74-year-old previous record of 10.75 inches set in October 1941. The Oklahoma Climatological Survey has kept records since the 1890s.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

U.S Drought Monitor as of May 29, 2015
U.S. Drought Monitor

Given the choice between the crippling drought of the past nearly 5 years and the ongoing threat of flooding Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are currently dealing with, Chris Kirby with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission says she’ll take the rain every time.

“I’ve heard some people say, ‘well, I don’t want to complain about the rain, because the last time I did, it quit raining for six years,” Kirby tells StateImpact.

The White House / Youtube

President Obama says the deadly flooding in Oklahoma and Texas is a reminder that it's never too early to prepare for natural disasters. But he says the nation is better prepared than ever for today's storms.

“Not only do we have better information, but we have new mechanisms to disseminate it,” Obama said after receiving his annual hurricane briefing during his first visit to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami. “We’re also focusing on making ourselves more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate.”

Gov. Mary Fallin and state emergency management director Albert Ashwood tour damaged areas in Purcell Wednesday morning.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Updated 3:17 p.m.: Severe storms likely across western Oklahoma

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for counties in far western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, saying there's an Enhanced Risk for severe storms across far western Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Emergency Management director Albert Ashwood meet with first responders in Purcell on May 27, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Clean-up continues across Texas and Oklahoma after days of heavy rain and flooding. In Oklahoma, May is already the wettest month on record and the rains aren’t done yet. More water means more flooding in a state where the soil is already saturated and rivers are overflowing.

Justin Nimmo walks up the muddy front steps of his rent-to-own store in Purcell, Oklahoma, a little town about 40 miles south of Oklahoma City. Inside, fans and dehumidifiers purr as they strain to dry out his showroom.

There have been a number of weather-related deaths in Oklahoma since storms and flooding began on Friday, including a firefighter who died during a water rescue, and a 48-year-old woman who was killed after a tornado struck her home.

Nearly two years ago, a powerful tornado – the widest on record – struck the rural outskirts of Oklahoma City. Fortunately it missed heavily populated areas, but the ensuing flash flood killed 13 people in Oklahoma City, including nine Guatemalan immigrants.

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

All the recent wet weather wiped out the drought in western Oklahoma, but climate scientists say farmers in the region should get ready for more hotter, drier days in the future.

A tornado struck the Best Value Inn on Southeast 44th Street and Interstate 35
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

President Obama signed a disaster declaration Tuesday for areas of Oklahoma affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding in early May.

It makes federal funding available to individuals whose property was damaged in storms in Cleveland, Grady and Oklahoma counties May 5-10.

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

Updated 9:02 p.m. The National Weather Services says, "Strong to severe storms seem to be increasing in coverage as winds just off the surface (low level jet) is intensifying. Most of these storms are becoming severe quickly, with large hail and very heavy rainfall the primary concerns. Storms may eventually merge into one or more clusters and move north and east. Stay alert as we head into the overnight hours in case storms intensify in your area."

 

Memorial Day Storms Will Add To OK Flooding Concerns

May 25, 2015
National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Norman, OK

Updated 4:30 p.m. The National Weather adds several Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, including a recently tweeted statement regarding a strong storm impacting Pittsburg County. 

Flooding in Oklahoma City on 23rd Street
NATHANAEL CALLON / Twitter

Update May 25, 10 a.m.  The Oklahoma Red Cross closed the Oklahoma City shelter Monday morning, but the other shelters listed below remain open.

Update 2:30 p.m.  Heartline and the Oklahoma Red Cross are offering assistance for people affected by the storms and flooding throughout Oklahoma.

Call HeartLine 2-1-1 for resource information like temporary shelters and agencies taking displaced pets. Heartline also has a web page with resource information. Residents of Oklahoma City can also call 2-1-1 to register the damage so officials can make damage assessments.

Below is an updated list of Red Cross shelters opened in Oklahoma for those affected by flooding.

Oklahoma City area -- closed Monday morning
Messiah Lutheran Church, 3600 Northwest Expressway, Oklahoma City

Remaining open:

Noble/Slaughterville/Purcell area: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 4401 Maguire Rd, Noble

Residents being ferried away from east side of Lake Thunderbird by canoe.
OU Emergency Prep / Twitter

Updated 7:30 p.m. Sunshine.  

Updated 4 p.m. The National Weather Service forecast calls for more dangerous flooding through the rest of this holiday weekend. Light to moderate rain may still be possible Sunday evening and Monday afternoon and evening. This rainfall will worsen ongoing flooding and could lead to more flash flooding in some areas. Flash Flood Warnings/Watches extend through Monday morning across the state.

Flooding on 2nd Street at Rankin in Edmond, Oklahoma
Edmond Police Department

Updated 9:45 p.m. Heavy rainfall continues to create flooding concerns across central Oklahoma.  

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports at least 15 road closures

National Weather Service meteorologist Harold Brooks confirms what forecasters had been predicting - today's deluge would surpass historic single-month rainfall record for Oklahoma City.

Heavy flooding at the intersection of Main Street and Lahoma Ave. in Norman on May 19, 2015.
Steven Anderson / Twitter

Updated 7:49 p.m. National Weather Service forecaster warns of potentially "deadly flood and flash flood event” over the Memorial Day weekend.  

Craig Nance, owner of Nance Landscaping in Altus, Okla. says he hasn't done a landscaping job in Altus in three or four years because of the drought.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

This May already ranks as one of the wettest in state history, and continues to snuff out the four-year drought that dried up cities in southwest Oklahoma. Water rationing helped keep Duncan, Lawton, and Altus afloat, but those cities are now scaling back their water saving mandates.

Praise And Worry

A wall cloud lowers over Purcell south of the National Weather Center in Norman Tuesday afternoon.
OU Emergency Prep / Twitter

Updated 6:49 p.m.: Flooding still a major concern

A Flash Flood Warning is in effect until 9:45 p.m. as heavy rain continues to fall across central Oklahoma. 

High water caused a hole to form on the bridge of State Highway 9 over Interstate 35. Authorities closed the roadway and diverted traffic as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation worked to make the roadway passable. 

Meteorologist Jesus Lopez demonstrates some of the weather forecasting software at the Telemundo studios in Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma’s Spanish speakers have more access to severe weather information now than they did two years ago when tornadoes ripped through Moore and other parts of the Oklahoma City metro. But despite the improvements, gaps in communication remain.

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