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.

David Slane and Danni Legg (center) ask the public for petition signatures as a "last ditch effort" to get a school safe room issue on a future ballot.
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

A group that wants storm shelters in every Oklahoma school has spent the last 90 days gathering signatures to get its initiative petition on the ballot. Take Shelter Oklahoma is still tens of thousands of signatures short of the required amount, but proponents now have more time than they originally thought. 

Ben and Kristen Jones stand on their empty lot that Rebuilding Together OKC is building using United Way tornado donations.
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

In the wake of last year’s devastating tornadoes, millions of dollars in donations went to The United Way of Central Oklahoma. The non-profit organization also agreed to administer Governor Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma Strong tornado relief campaign. Together, the funds raised a total of $20 million. 

One week after the tornado hit the city of Moore in May of 2013, country singer Blake Shelton showed up to host a benefit concert called Healing in the Heartland.

The City of Moore's Shane Speegle inspects one home that is subject to the city's newer, more stringent building code.
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

This March, Moore, Oklahoma became the first city in the nation to adopt a tornado-specific building code. City officials wanted homes to be able to withstand an EF-2 or EF-3 tornado.

But six months after the new regulations took effect, it turns out not all new homes built in the tornado’s path will have these upgrades.

Last week, on a block near Moore’s rebuilt Plaza Towers Elementary School, city official Shane Speegle walked through one house that had just been framed to check the progress.

Vicki / Flickr.com

Oklahoma officials say $1.5 million in drought grants is available for projects that highlight the responsible use of water.

The grants are capped at $500,000 each, and the deadline for application is Nov. 26. Gov. Mary Fallin says the responsible use of water is the most effective and immediate way to prevent future water shortages in Oklahoma.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, about 85 percent of Oklahoma is experiencing some form of drought, with the driest conditions occurring in the southwest and the Panhandle.

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. 

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