Western and Central Oklahoma & Western North Texas
2010 was the year of significant weather events, at least for the first half of the year or so. We saw significant ice/snow storms, tornado outbreaks, historic flooding, and even a “significant” earthquake (at least by Oklahoma standards). The year ended on a dry note as we headed into a La Nina pattern, but the memories of the year’s significant weather were still fresh in our minds.
Here are some interesting facts about the 2010 weather in the NWS Norman County Warning Area:
January 28-29: A major, multi-day winter storm impacted a large portion of Oklahoma and western north Texas. An arctic cold front dropped temperatures that were in the 50s and 60s on the 27th to the 20s and 30s on the 28th. A large plume of gulf moisture overspread the shallow cold front, with heavy rainfall falling into sub-freezing air. A large portion of southwest Oklahoma and northern Texas received significant accumulations of ice accumulation. The ice stopped short of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, but not by much. Luckily, the freezing rain had transitioned to sleet, ending the threat of significant ice accumulations over the metro. The precipitation waned by the evening hours, but by late morning of the 29th, a significant snowstorm affected a large part of Oklahoma. Totals of both the ice and snow can be seen on the graphics. A more complete event synopsis can be found here.
Although no significant precipitation events occurred during the month of February, the colder temperatures were the main story. The average temperature was 36.6 degrees, or almost six degrees below normal. All but four days had below normal temperatures. Now, this was not a top-10 cold February, but it was quite a change from what happened during February 2009. The average temperature that month was 48.1 degrees, making it the tenth warmest February on record (of course, there was also the story of the tornado outbreak that month).
At Wichita Falls, the average temperature was 39.2 degrees, making it the sixth coldest February on record. But, unlike at Oklahoma City, they got some wintry weather to go along with their cold temperatures. On the 11th, 5.6 inches of snow accumulated at Sheppard Air Force Base, which was a record for that date.
Hammon, OK Tornado: A relatively long-tracked tornado touched down in a rural area to the southwest of Hammon around 5:20 PM CST on March 8th, and then tracked to the northeast towards the town of Hammon. This tornado was on the ground for around 40 minutes, moving mainly over rural areas. Near the end of the tornado track, the tornado clipped the southeast edge of Hammon, destroying several barns, and damaging several homes. The tornado finally dissipated to the northeast of Hammon. The tornado was rated an EF-2 based primarily on the damage on the southeastern side of Hammon - including the damage to a home and a county barn. For more information on this event, you can click here. Photos above provided by Scott Peake.
March 20th Snow Event: A mid-March snowstorm affected much of Oklahoma and western north Texas, ruining what was becoming some beautiful southern Plains weather. The temperature on the 19th rose to 72 degrees at Oklahoma and 74 degrees at Wichita Falls. The next day, however, the high temperature was 33 degrees and 39 degrees respectively. To top it off, one to three inches of snow accumulated, with the 1.6 inches being a record for the 20th at Wichita Falls. However, just three days later on the 23rd, the temperature was back up into the 70s and low 80s, with Oklahoma City rising to 76 degrees at Oklahoma City, and 80 degrees at Wichita Falls.
May 10th: A tornado outbreak, the largest 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 22 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 parts of the Oklahoma City metro area, with one developing right outside the window of our office in 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 (55 to 65 mph!!!), the death toll could have been much higher. For more information on this event, you can click here. Photo above provided by John Leeman.
May 16th: A supercell thunderstorm moved from northwest to southeast, directly over the Oklahoma City metro area. Although tornadoes were not the threat with this storm, large quantities of hail fell. Some of the hail reached baseball size, although the average hail stone was around golf ball-size. Hail drifts were several feet deep in places, and damage from the hail was widespread. Monetary damage estimates were well into the millions, possibly even exceeding the monetary damages from the May 10th tornado outbreak just six days earlier. For more information on this event, you can click here.
May 19th: Yet another tornado outbreak, although this one was not as strong and less intense, occurred over parts of northern and central Oklahoma. Several high precipitation supercells developed over during the afternoon, producing several short-lived tornadoes. The most photographed tornado occurred north of Hennessey, OK, producing no damage as it slowly moved east. Other tornadoes were much harder to see, given the heavy precipitation that obscured the view. Although this even came and went without any significant damage, the event could have been much worse considering the thunderstorms proximity to larger cities, including the north Oklahoma City metro area and Stillwater. For more information on this event, you can click here.
What makes this month interesting is that it was mostly hot and very humid, except for a couple of days. The average high temperature at Oklahoma City was 91.1 degrees, which was 3.9 degrees above normal. The average temperature at Oklahoma City was 81.2 degrees, or 4.4 degrees above normal, making it the 10th warmest June on record. Twenty-one days had a high temperature of at least 90 degrees. At Wichita Falls, the average high temperature was 94.5 degrees. All but 3 days had temperatures at or above 90 degrees. The warmest temperature was 98 degrees, reached 4 times during the month.
However, June 16th will go down as a very, very, very wet day for central Oklahoma. Oklahoma City received its highest daily rainfall total for any day of the year. 7.62 inches of rain fell mainly over a seven hour period, causing significant flooding over the Oklahoma City metro area. At Lawton, 3.93 inches of rain fell, mostly during the early evening hours, and this also caused significant flooding. Unfortunately, one person in Lawton lost his life as a result of the high water. But as serious as the situation was, with numerous water rescues from homes and automobiles, it was amazing that that there not more injuries given the time of day that this event occurred.
The rainfall totals pushed the year-to-date rainfall well over normal, but the lasting affects were brief. Since most of the precipitation rain off into the creeks and rivers, very little of it soaked into the ground. For more information on this event, click here.
Tropical Storm Hermine: The remains of Tropical Storm Hermine moved north through Texas and into southern Oklahoma during the afternoon and evening of September 8th, bringing several bands of heavy rain and thunderstorms. At least three brief tornadoes were reported with individual storms within the bands. The most destructive tornado (rated EF-1)occurred near Colbert in Bryan county (Damage photo above provided by Joel Scalf). A couple of homes were damaged and two trucks were overturned on Highway 69. One of the drivers sustained minor injuries. Another brief tornado damaged two homes northwest of Lone Grove in Carter county (Tornado photo above provided by Kevin Jackson), and another brief tornado was reported south of Marietta in Love county.
Although not a weather phenomenon, residents of central Oklahoma received a rude welcome to the morning in the form of an earthquake. According to the United States Geological Survey, at 9:09 am CDT, a magnitude 4.3 earthquake occurred 5 miles ESE of Norman. Central Oklahoma has been no stranger to relatively smaller earthquakes over the last several months, but this one seemed to be felt by a larger number of people. People from Oklahoma City, to Tulsa, to Kansas City reported feeling the ground shake. No significant damage was reported with the earthquake.
La Niña began showing itself around early Summer. Historically, once this pattern develops, our area experiences above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. The effects of La Niña began around August. Oklahoma City saw above normal average temperatures that month, continuing into December. Wichita Falls, TX was slightly more fortunate, with their temperatures closer to "normal." However, precipitation totals were a little more worrisome. At Oklahoma City, outside of September, which had 3.59 inches of precipitation (still below normal), the other four months totaled 2.54 inches. That is 7.58 inches below normal! At Wichita Falls, the effects were not as severe. Outside of September, which had 5.41 inches (well above normal), the precipitation total the other four months was 3.86 inches. That was "only" 5.00 inches below normal. The average temperature also came in well above normal at both locations. From August through December, the average temperature at Oklahoma City was around 2.3 degrees above normal, and 2.1 degrees above normal at Wichita Falls. A moderate drought developed as a result of the continued dry/mild weather, and the long-term forecast by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for a continuation into 2011. For more information on La Niña, you can click here. And for more information on the current drought status, you can click here.
For the most up-to-date weather information and forecasts for central and western Oklahoma, as well as western north Texas, you can click here to go to the National Weather Service Norman, OK Homepage.