Weater History for Oklahoma

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
130 PM CDT FRI NOV 16 2007

OKZ004>048-050>052-170300-
130 PM CDT FRI NOV 16 2007

…100 YEARS OF OKLAHOMA WEATHER…

IN CELEBRATION OF OKLAHOMA’S CENTENNIAL… THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE IN NORMAN LOOKS BACK AT SOME OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AND
MOST MEMORABLE WEATHER EVENTS THAT HAVE AFFECTED THE STATE DURING
ITS FIRST 100 YEARS.

YEAR DATES EVENT

1911 NOV 11 A “BLUE NORTHER” LOWERED TEMPERATURES 50 TO 65
DEGREES IN 2 HOURS. THE HIGH AND LOW TEMPERATURES AT OKLAHOMA CITY
ON THIS DAY… 83 AND 17… BOTH STILL STAND AS RECORDS FOR THE DATE
AS OF 2007.

1911/2 DEC-MAR 87.3 INCHES OF SNOW FELL IN BEAVER, A STATE
RECORD FOR SEASONAL SNOWFALL.

1912 APR 27 A MAJOR TORNADO OUTBREAK LEFT AT LEAST 30 DEAD
ACROSS WESTERN AND CENTRAL OKLAHOMA. THE EXACT NUMBER OF TORNADOES
IS UNKNOWN, BUT THERE WERE AT LEAST 16 TORNADOES THAT EARNED AN F2
OR GREATER RATING, INCLUDING 5 THAT WERE RATED F3 AND 6 THAT WERE
RATED F4. HARDEST HIT WERE THE TOWNS OF BUTLER /6 DEAD/, LUGERT /ALL
BUT 2 BUILDINGS DESTROYED/, CALUMET /3 DEAD/, HINTON /4 UNCONFIRMED
DEATHS/, AND SENTINEL /60 HOMES DAMAGED OR DESTROYED/. IN TERMS OF
THE NUMBER AND INTENSITY OF TORNADOES, SOME RESEARCHERS BELIEVE THIS
OUTBREAK WAS AT LEAST AS SIGNIFICANT AS THE OUTBREAK OF MAY 3 1999.

1920 MAY 2 AN F4 TORNADO DESTROYED PEGGS, KILLING 71. THIS
IS THE THIRD DEADLIEST TORNADO IN OKLAHOMA HISTORY.

1923 OCT 13-16 FLOODING ON THE NORTH CANADIAN RIVER LED TO A
BREACH OF LAKE OVERHOLSER, FORCING EVACUATION OF 15,000 RESIDENTS IN
OKLAHOMA CITY. THIS FLOOD LED TO A RADICAL REDISTRIBUTION OF HOUSING
PATTERNS IN THE CITY AS HIGHER-INCOME FAMILIES MOVED NORTHWARD, AWAY
FROM THE RIVER.

1924 MARCH HEAVY SNOW FELL DURING MUCH OF THE MONTH OVER
MOST OF THE STATE. MONTHLY SNOWFALL TOTALS WERE 20 TO 37 INCHES IN
MANY AREAS, SOME OF WHICH STILL STAND AS ALL-TIME SNOWFALL RECORDS
FOR ANY SINGLE MONTH.

1930 APRIL 25 AN F4 TORNADO KILLED 23 IN BETHANY. THIS IS THE
9TH DEADLIEST TORNADO IN OKLAHOMA HISTORY.

1932-38 GENERAL DROUGHT CONDITIONS, COMBINED WITH
INAPPROPRIATE FARMING PRACTICES, LED TO THE “DUST BOWL.” DETAILS OF
SOME OF THE MORE NOTEWORTHY SINGLE EVENTS FOLLOW.

1935 APR 10-11 A DUST STORM COVERED ALMOST THE ENTIRE STATE,
REDUCING VISIBILITY TO LESS THAN 2 BLOCKS AS FAR EAST AS PAWNEE
COUNTY.

1935 APR 14 “BLACK SUNDAY” DUST STORM REDUCED VISIBILITY TO
ZERO LATE IN THE AFTERNOON OVER THE PANHANDLE AND NORTHWEST,
“TURNING AFTERNOON BRIGHTNESS IMMEDIATELY INTO MIDNIGHT DARKNESS.”

1936 JUL-AUG RECORD HEAT. HIGH TEMPERATURES REACHED 120 AT
ALVA, ALTUS (TWICE) AND POTEAU, THE HIGHEST TEMPERATURE EVER
RECORDED OFFICIALLY IN OKLAHOMA. THE HIGH OF 113 AT OKLAHOMA CITY ON
AUGUST 11 IS STILL THE ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR THE CITY.

1942 APRIL 27 AN F4 TORNADO STRUCK PRYOR, KILLING 52. THIS IS
THE 5TH DEADLIEST TORNADO IN OKLAHOMA HISTORY.

1942 JUNE 12 AN F4 TORNADO STRUCK OKLAHOMA CITY, KILLING 35.
THIS IS THE 7TH DEADLIEST TORNADO IN OKLAHOMA HISTORY, AND WAS THE
DEADLIEST TORNADO TO HIT OKLAHOMA CITY UNTIL THE F5 TORNADO OF MAY 3
1999.

1945 APRIL 12 AN F5 TORNADO STRUCK ANTLERS, KILLING 69. THIS IS
THE 4TH DEADLIEST TORNADO IN OKLAHOMA HISTORY.

1947 APRIL 9 AN F5 LONG-TRACK TORNADO STRUCK WOODWARD. 116
PEOPLE WERE KILLED, MAKING THIS THE DEADLIEST SINGLE TORNADO IN
OKLAHOMA HISTORY.

1948 MAR 20/25 A TORNADO STRUCK TINKER AIR FORCE BASE ON MARCH
20, LEADING TO THE FIRST TORNADO FORECAST 5 DAYS LATER BY AIR FORCE
METEOROLOGISTS FAWBUSH AND MILLER. THE BASE WAS STRUCK AGAIN ON
MARCH 25, BUT THE FIRST-EVER SUCCESSFUL TORNADO FORECAST LED TO
PROTECTIVE ACTION THAT PREVENTED SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO AIRCRAFT.

1955 MAY 12 AN F5 TORNADO STRUCK BLACKWELL, KILLING 20.

1957 AN ACTIVE SPRING TORNADO SEASON – 85 TORNADOES IN
APRIL AND MAY – AND A RECORD 12 MORE TORNADOES IN NOVEMBER
CONTRIBUTED TO TOTAL OF 107 TORNADOES IN OKLAHOMA IN 1957. THIS WAS
A RECORD YEARLY TOTAL, UNTIL THE OUTBREAK OF MAY 3 1999.

1960 MAY 5 TWO F4 TORNADOES LED TO 32 DEATHS IN WILBURTON,
KEOTA, HOWE, AND REICHERT.

1971 FEB 21-22 BLIZZARD IN NORTHWEST OKLAHOMA. THE STORM TOTAL
OF 36 INCHES AT BUFFALO STILL STANDS AS A STATE RECORD FOR
STORM-TOTAL SNOWFALL.

1973 OCT 11 RAINFALL OF 15.68 INCHES IN ENID ESTABLISHED A
STATE RECORD FOR 24-HOUR RAINFALL. IT ACTUALLY FELL IN ONLY 13
HOURS, AND 12 INCHES OF IT FELL IN 3 HOURS. THE RESULTING FLASH
FLOOD KILLED 9.

1974 JUN 8 TWO DOZEN TORNADOES IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN
OKLAHOMA. THE STRONGEST WAS AN F4 THAT KILLED 14 IN DRUMRIGHT. FIVE
TORNADOES STRUCK WITHIN THE OKLAHOMA CITY LIMITS, ONE OF WHICH
TOUCHED DOWN AT WILL ROGERS AIRPORT AND HIT THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE OFFICE.

1979 APR 10 “RED RIVER” TORNADO OUTBREAK. 13 TORNADOES FROM
NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS INTO CENTRAL OKLAHOMA, KILLING 4 IN OKLAHOMA
INCLUDING 3 NEAR LAWTON. THIS OUTBREAK IS REMEMBERED MOST FOR THE
MASSIVE TORNADO THAT STRUCK WICHITA FALLS, KILLING 45. THAT TORNADO
WAS THE COSTLIEST TORNADO EVER, UNTIL OKLAHOMA CITY WAS STRUCK ON
MAY 3 1999.

1980 SUMMER HEAT WAVE. OKLAHOMA CITY REACHED 100 OR MORE ON
50 DAYS DURING THE SEASON.

1983 OCT 17-23 FLOODING RESULTED FROM 10 TO 15 INCHES OF RAIN,
AS MOISTURE FROM THE REMNANTS OF PACIFIC HURRICANE TICO INTERACTED
WITH A STALLED FRONT.

1983 DECEMBER ARCTIC OUTBREAK LED TO PROLONGED WIND CHILLS WELL
BELOW ZERO OVER NEARLY THE ENTIRE LATTER HALF OF THE MONTH.
OKLAHOMA CITY REMAINED BELOW FREEZING FROM THE 17TH THROUGH THE
31ST, A RECORD DURATION FOR SUBFREEZING TEMPERATURES. ON CHRISTMAS
EVE, THE HIGH WAS 3 DEGREES AND THE LOW WAS ZERO.

1984 MAY 26-27 MEMORIAL DAY TULSA FLOOD RESULTED FROM OVER 12
INCHES OF RAIN IN A MATTER OF HOURS. SEVERAL RAIN GAGES WITH
15-INCH RAINFALL CAPACITY ALLEGEDLY OVERFLOWED. 14 PEOPLE WERE
KILLED.

1985 NOV 30 “ICE BOWL.” SUBFREEZING TEMPERATURES AND HEAVY
SHOWERS LED TO AN ICE STORM DURING THE DAY AND EVENING ACROSS PARTS
OF NORTHERN AND WESTERN OKLAHOMA. THE BEDLAM FOOTBALL GAME THAT
EVENING IN STILLWATER, BETWEEN OKLAHOMA AND OKLAHOMA STATE, WAS
PLAYED IN NEARLY CONTINUOUS FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET – PUNCTUATED BY
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING AT ONE POINT AS A SQUALL LINE MOVED THROUGH.
IN SOUTHERN OKLAHOMA, THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCED GOLFBALL HAIL IN DUNCAN
WHEN TEMPERATURES WERE BARELY ABOVE FREEZING. AN F2 TORNADO OCCURRED
IN ATOKA COUNTY. OH, AND THE SOONERS DEFEATED THE COWBOYS 13-0.

1986 JANUARY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1890,
OKLAHOMA CITY EXPERIENCED A TOTALLY DRY CALENDAR MONTH – ZERO
PRECIPITATION.

1986 SEP30-OCT4 FLOODING IN AT LEAST 52 COUNTIES IN WESTERN,
CENTRAL, AND NORTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA RESULTED FROM 10 TO 20 INCHES OF
RAIN. REMNANTS OF PACIFIC TROPICAL CYCLONES NEWTON AND PAINE
CONTRIBUTED TO THE HEAVY RAIN. HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN NORTH CENTRAL
OKLAHOMA LED TO MAJOR FLOODING ON THE ARKANSAS RIVER AND ITS
TRIBUTARIES. DAMAGE ESTIMATES REACHED 350 MILLION DOLLARS.

1987 DEC 25-27 AN ICE STORM LEFT ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2
INCHES IN A SWATH FROM DUNCAN TO NORMAN TO TULSA. THIS WAS ONE OF
THE WORST ICE STORMS IN STATE HISTORY TO DATE. BETWEEN 50 AND 100
THOUSAND HOMES WERE LEFT WITHOUT POWER, SOME FOR NEARLY A WEEK.

1988 THERE WERE ONLY 17 TORNADOES IN OKLAHOMA IN 1988,
THE LOWEST ANNUAL TOTAL SINCE DETAILED TORNADO RECORDS BEGAN IN
1950. THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF OKLAHOMA TORNADOES PER YEAR IS AROUND
53.

1989 MAR 3 A COLD OUTBREAK LOWERED TEMPERATURES FROM THE 70S
INTO THE 20S IN A FEW HOURS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS FORMED OVER THE
COLD AIR THAT EVENING, PRODUCING LARGE HAIL NORTH OF OKLAHOMA CITY
WHERE SURFACE TEMPERATURES WERE NEAR 20. A SNOWSTORM WOULD PRODUCE
NEAR-BLIZZARD CONDITIONS IN PARTS OF THE STATE TWO DAYS LATER.

1991 APR 26 A TORNADO OUTBREAK PRODUCED 58 TORNADOES FROM
TEXAS TO IOWA, INCLUDING 10 IN OKLAHOMA. 2 DEATHS OCCURRED IN
NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA. THE LARGEST TORNADO IN OKLAHOMA LEFT A
66-MILE DAMAGE PATH IN NORTHERN OKLAHOMA, AND WAS OVER 1/2 MILE
WIDE. THIS OUTBREAK INCLUDED THE ANDOVER KS TORNADO, IN WHICH 17
WERE KILLED.

1994 AUG 17 A LARGE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM LEFT A PATH OF
DESTRUCTION FROM THE COMBINED EFFECTS OF WIND AND VERY LARGE HAIL,
FROM NORTHWEST OKLAHOMA TO JUST NORTHWEST OF OKLAHOMA CITY. KNOWN AS
THE “LAHOMA STORM,” THE OKLAHOMA MESONET SITE NEAR THERE CLOCKED
WINDS AT 113 MPH BEFORE THE ANEMOMETER WAS BROKEN. THE STORM ALSO
PRODUCED LARGE AMOUNTS OF GOLFBALL TO BASEBALL SIZE HAIL, WHICH
STRIPPED TREES AND SHRUBS OF VEGETATION AND PUMMELED THE WINDWARD
SIDES OF BUILDINGS. THERE WAS AN UNCONFIRMED REPORT OF AN OBLONG
HAILSTONE OVER 6 INCHES LONG AD 4 INCHES WIDE THAT LANDED IN THE BED
OF A PICKUP NEAR OKARCHE.

1998 OCT 4 A TORNADO OUTBREAK PRODUCED 27 TORNADOES IN
OKLAHOMA – A NATIONAL RECORD FOR TORNADOES IN ANY STATE ON A SINGLE
DAY IN OCTOBER.

1999 MAY 3 MAJOR TORNADO OUTBREAK. AT LEAST 66 TORNADOES
OCCURRED IN OKLAHOMA, MAKING THIS BY FAR THE MOST PROLIFIC TORNADO
OUTBREAK IN OKLAHOMA HISTORY. THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR A SINGLE EVENT
WAS 28. AT LEAST 16 OF THE TORNADOES WERE RATED F2 OR GREATER, 10
WERE RATED F3 OR GREATER, 4 WERE F4 OR GREATER, AND ONE – THE
BRIDGE CREEK/MOORE/OKLAHOMA CITY TORNADO – WAS RATED F5. THE LATTER
KILLED 36 PEOPLE, MAKING IT THE 6TH DEADLIEST SINGLE TORNADO IN
OKLAHOMA HISTORY. A TOTAL OF 40 PEOPLE WERE KILLED.

2000 DEC 25-27 AN ICE STORM IN SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN
OKLAHOMA LEFT WIDESPREAD ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF 1-2 INCHES, DOWNING
THOUSANDS OF TREES AND DAMAGING OR DESTROYING THOUSANDS OF HOMES,
VEHICLES, AND UTILITY POLES. AT ITS PEAK, 170,000 RESIDENTS WERE
WITHOUT POWER, MANY FOR NEARLY A WEEK. IN SOME CASES IT TOOK YEARS
TO CLEAN UP AND REMOVE DOWNED TREES AND LIMBS. SOME REPORTS SUGGEST
THAT TREES AND LIMBS THAT WERE DAMAGED IN 2000 STILL CAN BE
IDENTIFIED TODAY.

2002 JAN 29-31 AN ICE STORM IN WESTERN AND NORTHERN OKLAHOMA
LEFT WIDESPREAD ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2 INCHES. ROWS OF ICICLES
HANGING FROM POWER LINES AND EXPOSED STRUCTURES OFTEN WERE MORE THAN
A FOOT LONG. NEARLY 250,000 RESIDENTS WERE WITHOUT POWER AT THE PEAK
OF THE STORM, AND SOME WERE WITHOUT COMMERCIAL POWER FOR WEEKS.
THIS, THE THIRD MAJOR ICE STORM IN THE STATE IN 15 YEARS, WAS LIKELY
THE COSTLIEST AS DAMAGE ESTIMATES EXCEEDED 300 MILLION DOLLARS.

2005/6 DEC-MAR WILDFIRES WERE WIDESPREAD AS A RESULT OF
PERSISTENT DRY, WINDY, AND WARM CONDITIONS. IN EXCESS OF A QUARTER
MILLION ACRES WERE BURNED, AND HUNDREDS OF HOMES AND OTHER
STRUCTURES WERE EVACUATED. ONE FIREFIGHTER DIED AND SEVERE OTHERS
WERE INJURED WHILE FIGHTING THE FIRES.

2007 MAY-JUL FLOODING WAS WIDESPREAD ACROSS THE STATE, AS THE
DRY PATTERN OF THE PREVIOUS SEVERAL YEARS REVERSED COMPLETELY AND
LED TO RECORD RAINFALL OVER SEVERAL MONTHS.

2007 AUG 19 WIND AND FLOODING OCCURRED IN MANY PARTS OF
OKLAHOMA AS THE REMNANTS OF TROPICAL STORM ERIN, AFTER WEAKENING AND
DRIFTING THROUGH TEXAS, REINTENSIFIED OVER OKLAHOMA 2 DAYS AFTER
LANDFALL AND HUNDREDS OF MILES FROM THE NEAREST SOURCE OF WARM
WATER. THE UNPRECEDENTED EVOLUTION OF THIS STORM SYSTEM DURING THE
EARLY MORNING HOURS IS STILL BEING RESEARCHED, AND LIKELY WILL BE
STUDIED FOR YEARS TO COME.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OKLAHOMA WEATHER HISTORY…VISIT OUR
WEBSITE AT WEATHER.GOV/NORMAN.

$$

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About Putnam Reiter

Putnam has been storm chasing since 1990 and is a co-founder of Hook-Echo.com. For his day job, Putnam works in emergency management for information technology.
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