Even by Oklahoma standards, it’s been a unusually busy year so far for meteorologists at the National Weather Service. Starting on Christmas Eve of last year, a variety of significant weather events has affected the region, including snow, ice, tornadoes, hail, and flooding. Any one of these events alone would be significant on their own, but to have them all occur within a six month period is a big deal.
2009 Christmas Eve Blizzard
Those with last minute Christmas shopping plans were greeted by a major blizzard that affected much of central and southern Oklahoma, as well as over northern Texas. The blizzard closed most roadways by early afternoon, leaving many stranded and spending Christmas Eve in emergency shelters. By the time it was all said and done, Oklahoma City set a new record for the most snowfall in one day, 13.5 inches, with a wide swath of four and eight inches of snow. The winds were sustained at 40 mph and gusted to 60 mph for several hours, creating whiteout conditions with visibility less than 100 feet. For more in depth details of the Christmas Eve Blizzard, click here.
January 28-29, 2010 Major Winter Storm
A crippling ice storm brought damage and widespread power outages to much of southwest Oklahoma and parts of central Oklahoma on the 28th, followed by a significant snowstorm on the 29th. The damaging ice accumulations were most severe over Harmon, Greer, Kiowa, Jackson, Comanche, and Caddo Counties. At least several people in those areas remarked that it was one of the worst ice storms that they could recollect, at least in the past several decades. At the peak of the storm , almost 180,000 homes and businesses were without power. The following day, widespread totals of 4 to 8 inches of snow were seen over the northeast two thirds of Oklahoma. While either winter event would be big news over the southern Plains, having both significant events occurring over a two day period makes this a rare event. For more in depth details of the crippling ice storm, click here.
May 10, 2010 Tornado Outbreak
The largest outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma since May 3rd of 1999 affected much of central and eastern Oklahoma from late afternoon into the early evening hours. Thirty-five tornadoes were reported just in the WFO Norman County Warning Area, with another 20 tornadoes occurring over the NWS Tulsa County Warning Area (click here for more details about NWS Tulsa's portion of the event). Two violent EF4 tornadoes affected the Oklahoma City metro area, with one developing right outside the window of WFO Norman, and the other just a few miles north. Tragically, three people died, but considering the ferocity of the storms, the time of day and their rapid motion, the death toll could have been much higher. For more in depth details of the tornado outbreak, click here.
May 16, 2010 Devastating Hailstorm
A lone supercell thunderstorm developed in northwest Oklahoma early on Sunday afternoon and traveled southeast over the heart of Oklahoma City and into parts of southeast Oklahoma. The thunderstorm produced hail up to 4 inches in diameter at times, and winds gusted up to 50 mph. So much hail fell from the thunderstorm that hail drifts accumulated several feet high in places. By evening, the storm had traveled nearly 200 miles, leaving a swath of damage from large hail in its wake. The hail remained on the ground until the next morning over several locations. Damage estimates from the hailstorm were estimated at over $500 million. For more in depth details of the devastating hailstorm, click here.
May 19, 2010 Tornadoes
Five high-precipitation supercell thunderstorms had produced nine tornadoes over parts of western and central Oklahoma. Thankfully, the tornado damage was minimal due to moving over less populated areas and most of them having short life spans. The damage could also have been worse due to the fact that the tornadoes quickly became rain-wrapped after developing. For more in depth details on the event, click here.
June 14, 2010 Central Oklahoma Flooding
A narrow corridor of intense rainfall developed from southeast Canadian county, through Oklahoma county, and into parts of Lincoln, Logan, and Payne counties, producing a swath of 5 to 9 inches of rainfall. Most of the precipitation fell from around 4 am to 11 am, which created significant impacts on the morning rush hour. Streets became raging rivers, stranding many motorists. And whole neighborhoods became enveloped by several feet of water, with at least five feet of water rising into many homes. For more in depth details of the significant flooding over central Oklahoma, click here.