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Gary England's Weather Observations

Credit University of Oklahoma

Gary England is a well known and trusted name in Oklahoma meteorology, joining the University of Oklahoma in 2015 as Consulting Meteorologist-in-Residence. In this occasional series, he adds insight into Oklahoma's often-extreme weather.

Over his 41-year career with Oklahoma City television station KWTV, England was known for keeping Oklahomans advised during severe weather events including tornado outbreaks. England became internationally noted for pioneering innovations in weather technology and systems that are now common tools in the world of severe weather coverage, including first acquisition and application of commercial Doppler radar, the storm time of arrival warning system, corner screen warning maps and cellular still picture/video transmission. With the company Enterprise Electronics, he implemented the world’s first commercial Doppler weather radar in 1981, becoming the first person in history to use Doppler radar for direct warnings to the public.

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Meteorologist Gary England.
Dick Pryor / KGOU

The vast majority of Oklahoma’s tornadoes occur in the spring. Since 1950, approximately 69 percent of the state’s tornadoes have formed in March, April and May, according to the National Weather Service. However, a “secondary storm season” arrives in the autumn, especially in the months of September and October.

KGOU Radio

You may have heard a familiar voice recently on KGOU.

He’s an Oklahoma broadcasting legend, Gary England.

For more than forty years Gary was chief meteorologist at KWTV – predicting the weather with his folksy charm and keeping Oklahomans advised about severe and violent weather.

Oklahomans trusted Gary England to keep them safe, and they still can.

Now, he works out of the University of Oklahoma, and provides his unique weather insights on KGOU.

Meteorologist Gary England.
Dick Pryor / KGOU

Sweltering heat is encompassing central and eastern Oklahoma. A heat advisory is in effect until Saturday, July 22 at 8:00 p.m. Afternoon highs could reach as high as 100 degrees, and heat index values could make it feel like 105 to 108 in the afternoon and early evening hours.

A tornado forms near Banner Road and Praire Circle in El Reno, Okla. on Friday, May 31, 2013.
Alonzo Adams / AP

The National Weather Service issued a preliminary rating for the tornado that hit Elk City last week as an EF-2. The tornado killed one person and destroyed over 40 homes.

Gary England, a consulting meteorologist-in-residence at the University of Oklahoma, says the Enhanced Fujita scale measures damage instead of wind. He says National Weather Service surveyors have to consider the location of damage, the type of damage and how affected houses are built.

In this May 19, 2010 file photo taken near Kingfisher, Okla., storm chasers and spectator vehicles clog the road and shoulder of Highway 81.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

 

Storm chasers continue to have a central role in documenting tornadoes, according to a leading Oklahoma meteorologist.

Gary England told KGOU that storm chasers give forecasters and meteorologists “eyes on the ground” that radars and other technological advances cannot provide. A human in the field sends back an immediate eye witness account of what is occurring during  storm, like a wall cloud, a funnel cloud or a tornado on the ground.

A tornado in Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9, 2016.
J.R. Hehnly / OKStorms.com

 

Oklahomans should brace for a storm season was an above-average number of tornadoes, according to meteorologist Gary England.

England told KGOU that a weak La Niña phenomena typically leads to an active tornado season.

“There’s been a bunch of years with a weak La Niña, we had a lot of tornadoes,” England said.

A weak La Niña occurs when temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are slightly below normal.
 

A burned field in northwestern Oklahoma.
Facebook/Oklahoma Forestry Services

 

 

A massive wildfire burned more than a thousand square miles earlier this month in northwestern Oklahoma, killing one person and countless animals, torching building and forcing evacuations. And this week, a fire in eastern Oklahoma has burned at least nine homes.

An airman kneels and prays in the Moore neighborhood south of Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

Tornado season is upon us. Oklahoma saw powerful storms last week, and state and local emergency management leaders continue to grapple with questions about preparation.

What else can local governments and the state do to improve public safety? Are there new ways to fund private, school or community shelters? What can individuals do beyond the obvious to protect themselves, and what does the research show?