The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2, 2012

1st quarter of 2012 warmest on record in Oklahoma

From The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a summer of record-setting heat and a generally mild winter, the average daily temperature in Oklahoma during the first four months of 2012 makes it the warmest first-quarter on record, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey said Wednesday.

The average temperature of 52.3 degrees from January through April was 5.5 degrees above normal and breaks the previous record of 51.4 degrees for the period set in 1986, according to associate state climatologist Gary McManus. The records date to 1895.

The warm start to the year comes after both national and state temperature records were set during summer 2011.

In July 2011, Oklahoma racked up the country’s highest monthly average temperature ever, 89.1 degrees, according to the Climatological Survey. The average temperature for the summer, 86.5 degrees, was the hottest in state history. Also, the record for number of days with temperatures 100 degrees or above was broken when Grandfield topped triple digits 101 times to best the 86 days set in Hollis in 1956.

McManus said one major difference between 2011 and 2012 — rain — makes it appear the pending summer will not be as extreme.

“We really don’t have the drought conditions that we had last year that exacerbated the heat, making it like an Easy Bake oven,” McManus said, referencing the working toy ovens used by children.

“We shouldn’t see the extreme, extreme type of summer that we had last year,” he said.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, which showed all of Oklahoma in some form of drought in October, now shows only the Panhandle in severe to extreme drought and southwestern Oklahoma ranging from abnormally dry to moderate drought.

Forecaster Daryl Williams with the National Weather Service in Norman said the outlook through July does not forecast another round of record-setting temperatures.

“The short-term answer is we’re not expecting those brutal temperatures,” Williams said.

“We’re hot and muggy now, but the thing that’s in our favor right now is we’ve had a wet spring so far,” Williams said. “Usually if we have a dry spring we can expect above average temperatures because things will dry out and brown out quicker.”

Mark Plum of Oklahoma City took a philosophical approach to the heat.

“It is what it is, we are where we are,” in Oklahoma, Plum said. “We just have to deal with it and move on.”