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.

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.

U.S. Drought Monitor

All the recent wet weather in western Oklahoma has put a big dent in the severity of the ongoing drought there.

But as one part of the state celebrates above-average rainfall, a state climatologist says eastern Oklahoma — which has been spared the brunt of the drought so far — is getting dryer.

From The Oklahoman‘s Silas Allen:

Oklahoma Mesonet

Preliminary data from the Oklahoma Mesonet show the state averaged about 5.8 inches of rain in June - about an inch-and-a-half above normal for this time of year.

Associate State Climatologist Gary McManus says six Mesonet stations in northern Oklahoma recorded at least 9 inches of rain this month...Buffalo had the highest rainfall total at 10.4 inches.

An inch of rain fell somewhere in Oklahoma on 19 of the months 30 days, and that helped relieve some of the drought in the state as well.

J.N. Stuart / Flickr.com

An aerial survey shows good rains in parts of the five-state range of the federally threatened lesser prairie chicken have brought a 20 percent increase in the grouse's population from last year.

A release Tuesday from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies says there were 22,415 lesser prairie chickens in this year's survey, up from 18,747 last year.

The increase came in the northeast Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and south central Kansas — areas where more rain produced better prairie habitat. The bird is also in New Mexico and Colorado.

Could Limiting Evaporation Help With Drought?

Jun 30, 2014

Most of the southwestern U.S. is in the midst of some level of drought. Parts of California, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas are all seeing extreme drought, as rainfall and winter snowpacks have been far below average.

One of the biggest factors affecting water supplies in these hot, dry places is evaporation. Reservoirs can lose as much water to evaporation as the water that’s actually pumped out of them for drinking water.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. Each year, the state releases roughly 8,000 people from prison, and many of them are looking for work. One organization now hires ex-offenders to help rebuild and restore tornado-struck towns. 

When Reuben Ramirez was released from prison three months ago, it was hard for him to adjust. Ramirez spent a total of seven years behind bars, so getting used to the outside world wasn’t always easy.

Joplin Works Toward Tornado Preparedness After 2011 Tornado

Jun 23, 2014
Gail Banzet-Ellis

As we pass the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, we’re looking at lessons learned from another devastating storm, three years ago in Joplin, Missouri. 

Joplin’s EF-5 tornado damaged or destroyed more than 500 businesses, but since that time, the city has made remarkable progress getting back on its feet. Recovery has included planning for the unexpected. 

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