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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

An airman kneels and prays in the Moore neighborhood south of Plaza Towers Elementary School.
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.

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.

Neighbors Find Comfort In Community After 2013 Moore Tornado

May 19, 2014
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.

A quarter of Oklahoma, including the panhandle, and neighboring counties in Kansas and Texas are rated as being in "exceptional drought," the driest category on the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor—a status so dry that farmers express relief whenever their standing moves incrementally up a notch to "extreme drought."

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Last week, we hosted a public forum on how climate change affects Oklahoma. A panel of experts took audience questions on water and agriculture, and if the discussion is any guide, Oklahomans are curious, frustrated and concerned about climate change.

The Picasso Café in Oklahoma City was standing room only. One by one, audience members took the microphone and posed questions to our panelists: Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, and Dr. David Engle, Director of Oklahoma State University’s Water Resources Center.

Storms Possible Sunday Evening into Monday

May 11, 2014
National Weather Service

The Norman office of the National Weather Service reports that it will be windy across Oklahoma till at least 7pm.  Thunderstorms are likely this evening, beginning after 5pm in western Oklahoma, and continuing eastward into Monday as a cold front moves across the region. Severe weather is possible starting early evening and continuing into the early Monday morning hours. The potential for severe storms will diminish Monday morning but could increase again Monday afternoon and evening. Large hail and damaging straight-line winds will be the main concerns.

Kelly DeLay / Flickr Creative Commons

A new federal report bluntly warns that every region of the United States is already observing climate change-related affects to the environment and economy.

In Oklahoma and other Great Plains states, climate change from carbon emissions is changing crop growth cycles, increasing energy and water demand, altering rainfall patterns and leading to more frequent extreme weather and climate events, the report concludes.

Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

The National Weather Service says there's a possibility of severe storms with very large hail Wednesday afternoon and evening.

The best chance comes over Southwest Oklahoma, but very large hail up to the size of tennis balls and damaging wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour could develop near and east of a dryline between 4 and 10 p.m.

National Weather Service / Norman Forecast Office

Updated at 4:25 p.m.

Authorities are evacuating about two dozen homes as a wildfire moves rapidly northwest of Woodward.

Woodward County Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer says the fire is moving rapidly from north to east across U.S. 270. He told the Woodward News about two dozen homes are in the fire's path about five miles northwest of the city.

Tanya Mattek

The month of May has a somber significance for many Oklahoma residents. It’s one of the busiest months for tornados, averaging 22 cyclones in 31 days. And after last year’s series of devastating storms that killed 25 people, it now also marks a sad anniversary. The Oklahoma Tornado Project and the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center teamed up to remember the events that took place one year ago.

Lena Vob / Flickr.com

The president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts is urging farmers to think twice before plowing their fields this spring.

Kim Farber says ongoing drought in Oklahoma and Southern Plains creates the risk of dust storms and wind erosion that could be worsened by plowing.

Kurt Gwartney / Eastern Oklahoma Red Cross

Gov. Mary Fallin toured damage in the northeastern Oklahoma community of Quapaw on Monday, a day after a tornado killed one person and damaged nearly 60 structures.

Sixty-eight-year-old John L. Brown, of Baxter Springs, Kansas, was killed when he was traveling through Quapaw and he pulled over into a parking lot. Fifteen homes were totally destroyed.

Oklahoma escaped relatively unscathed - especially since no tornado warnings had been issued beforehand.

This post was updated at 6:15 p.m. ET.

A second day of tornadoes has caused devastation in the South, killing more than a dozen people in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Some 50 twisters were reported in the region in a 24-hour period from Monday into Tuesday, according to meteorologists.

This post was updated at 1:53 p.m. ET

Emergency officials were searching Monday for survivors after tornadoes tore through parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma overnight, killing at least 14 people and leveling entire neighborhoods.

"We don't have a count on injuries or missing. We're trying to get a handle on the missing part," Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said at a news conference Monday. "Just looking at the damage, this may be one of the strongest we have seen."

Kate Carlton

Tornado season has returned once again, and after the experience of last year, many Oklahomans are re-assessing their safety plans and prepping their designated refuge areas. 

For some people, that just means cleaning out their safe room. But for others, this weekend’s tornado scare was a reminder that they still haven’t gotten funding they were promised to build safe rooms.

Karen Stark has lived in Norman for decades. She’s seen her fair share of storms. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that she finally decided it was time to install a safe room in her house.

Pages