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.

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Water supplies in southwest Oklahoma are in danger of drying up as four years of drought drag lake levels to record lows. Some communities are scrambling to supplement their current water sources, while others look for new sources — in Texas.

Estimates say Duncan’s main water source — Lake Waurika — could be too low to use by 2016.

StateFarm / Flickr Creative Commons

After a series of severe storms swept through the state in May of last year, insurance carriers paid out over $1 billion in claims, making it the nation’s most costly disaster of 2013.

Most insurance issues have now been settled, but many homeowners are looking at higher rates than they were paying before the storm.

Kurt Gwartney / Eastern Oklahoma Region American Red Cross

Classes are canceled in Bartlesville after severe storms swept through the area, knocking out electricity to many areas of the northern Oklahoma city.

The Monday storms also downed tree limbs and power lines in Craig, Osage and Nowata counties. No injuries have been reported.

Bartlesville Public Schools officials say classes are canceled Tuesday at all campuses because of the power outages.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

With threats ranging from ice storms to tornadoes, Oklahoma ranks first in the nation in the number of presidentially declared disasters over the past 14 years.

That’s why the state says it's important for local officials to maintain hazard mitigation plans, explaining the steps they're taking to reduce or eliminate their risks. But keeping things up-to-date has proven tough. 

Welcome to Duncan, Okla. sign.
J. STEPHEN CONN / Flickr Creative Commons

Duncan will move to a higher water conservation status that will take effect later this fall.

The Duncan Banner reports the Stage 4 rationing won't be enforced until October to give residents time to adjust their water usage.

The city revised that status, which previously prohibited all outdoor water usage, to allow residents to use water outside one day each week.

Residents living north of Elk Avenue will be allowed to water their lawns for nine hours on Wednesday. Those living south of Elk Avenue can do so on Saturdays.

Students Return To New Schools After 2013 Moore Tornado

Aug 18, 2014
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

This week marks 15 months since a deadly tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma, leveling two schools and taking the lives of seven children inside Plaza Towers Elementary. It’s been a long journey, but the schools finally reopen Tuesday, and the kids are excited to be back.

10-year-old Marissa Miley was finishing up third grade at Moore’s Briarwood Elementary last year when an EF-5 tornado destroyed her school.

DonkeyHotey / Flickr.com

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $112,000 to the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma to use to administer the tribe's environmental program and to help develop multimedia programs to address environmental issues.

The funds may also be used for attending environmental training and conducting community outreach.

Storm Prediction Center / National Weather Service

The Storm Prediction Center is adding two threat levels to its U.S. weather outlooks so people aren't surprised by really bad storms on days with just a "slight risk" of tornadoes, hail or high winds.

Beginning Oct. 22, forecasters can say whether slight risk days are "enhanced" or "marginal." Other categories remain, including "high" and "moderate."

The Norman, Oklahoma-based center proposed the change after finding that some days had conditions worse than a "slight risk" but not as bad as a "moderate risk."

U.S. Drought Monitor / U.S. Department of Agriculture

A generous storm season has helped ease drought conditions in Oklahoma and the Southwest but parts of the hard-hit southern plains still have a long way to go. The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday says between 2 and 6 inches of rain fell in storms last week across the plains of Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Texas, which have been stuck in a drought for nearly four years.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

Among the more than 900 federal disaster loans offered because of the 2013 storms in Oklahoma, the largest was to cover damage to a hotel east of downtown Oklahoma City.

The 188-room Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center, located about three miles east of the Bricktown entertainment district, was approved for a $748,500 disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration for damage in the May 31 storms.

Auditing The Storm: A Look At Low-Interest Disaster Loans

Aug 5, 2014
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

After a federally-declared disaster, the U.S. Small Business Administration issues low-interest loans to help homeowners and businesses recover. The agency disbursed over $20 million to Oklahomans following last year’s severe weather outbreak in the central part of the state, so we wanted to look into exactly what it takes to get one of those loans. 

The July 29 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which doesn't reflect the full impact of this week's rainfall.
U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR

Despite more than 80 percent of the state still being under some level of drought, recent wet weather and below average temperatures continue to reduce the severity and size of drought in Oklahoma.

Flash Flood Watch In Effect Until 7 a.m. Thursday

Jul 29, 2014
National Weather Service currently thinking in terms of total rainfall amounts tonight through Thursday night.
National Weather Service/Norman Forecast Office / Facebook

The National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office warns that the heavy rain and flash flooding threat will increase late Tuesday into Wednesday, especially over northwestern and central Oklahoma.

Rainfall rates may exceed one inch per hour for several hours, even with little to no thunder.

A flash flood watch is effective after 10 p.m. Tuesday for northern and central Oklahoma. Until then an area of mostly light rain will affect parts of northwest and central and southern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the year since a series of severe storms devastated Central Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded nearly $146 million to the city of Moore and the state to help with recovery. But so far, only a fraction of that has been spent, and spending the money has turned out to be harder than you’d think. 

Kool Cats Photography / Flickr.com

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $11 million to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

The grant is part of the federal agency's Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a program that provides low-interest, flexible loans to communities to help them improve water quality and infrastructure.

The OWRB will distribute the $11.3 million as low-interest loans to a variety of recipients, including cities and rural water districts.

Auditing The Storm: Why Moore Missed Out On Mitigation Funds

Jul 21, 2014
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

When federal aid started pouring into the state after last years’ storms, FEMA designated $4 million for hazard mitigation – a tool used to protect communities from future severe weather through things like storm shelters. But the communities you’d think might receive this kind of money sometimes don’t. 

US Geological Survey

A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about half of the United States and lowers it for nearly a quarter of the nation.

The U.S. Geologic Survey updated Thursday its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Some Oklahoma farmers say there's "cautious optimism" that patchy rains this summer will make a dent in the drought afflicting much of the state and help save crops and cattle.

But they concede conditions could change quickly, like they did last year when Oklahoma settled back into the oppressive heat of the summer months. Crops wilted and hay shortages were prevalent across a large swath of the state.

Tim Bartram, with the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, says if periodic rains suddenly dry up, many farmers will be left with a familiar picture from last season.

Wichita Falls Fights Devastating Drought

Jul 9, 2014

Wichita Falls, Texas, is in its worst drought on record – worse than the dustbowl days of the ’50s. It started in 2010, and climatologists don’t see it letting up any time soon.

As city manager Darron Leiker explains, the city has taken a series of aggressive measures to cope.

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