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    Oklageddon: What a Year in the Sooner State!

    By By Mark Miller, meteorologist
    November 18, 2011, 7:22:03 AM EST

    2011 has been the year of extremes for the state of Oklahoma, with residents experiencing a wide variety of over-the-top weather events.

    From a major blizzard to extreme heat and a historic drought to powerful, record-setting tornadoes and earthquakes, Oklahoma has seen it all this year.

    Major Blizzard The famed "2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard" that hammered areas from the southern Plains to the Midwest and Northeast from Jan. 31 to Feb, 2, 2011 and set numerous records also packed a big punch in Oklahoma.

    The storm 11.8 inches of snow in Oklahoma City and 13.2 inches in Tulsa on Feb. 1, shattering the all-time daily snowfall records for February in both cities.

    Winds gusting near 60 mph rendered travel impossible, resulting in the closure of Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City, Tulsa International Airport and large stretches of highways and interstates, including I-40 and I-44.


    The howling winds also drove AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures, which provide a measure of how cold it feels with the wind factored in, well below zero. The Oklahoma Mesonet site at Boise City recorded the state's lowest wind chill on record with a reading of 36° below zero F.

    Extreme Drought

    The extraordinary drought that Oklahoma has experienced this past year has been among the state's worst on record.

    Since records began in 1921, this is the fifth driest year statewide. Since November 2010, the statewide rainfall total has been 23.83 inches, leaving a deficit of 11.66 inches, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

    The severe lack of rain has greatly impacted Oklahoma's growing season, claiming countless acres of crops and produce.

    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, exceptional drought conditions, the worst on the Drought Monitor's scale, are still occurring for the panhandle and western Oklahoma.


    Severe to extreme drought conditions can be found in central Oklahoma, while slightly better conditions exist for northeastern parts of the state. Portions of southeastern Oklahoma are still faced with exceptional drought.

    Despite recent rains, drought is forecasted to persist or intensify through the coming months. The AccuWeather.com Winter 2011-2012 Forecast has details on what is expected in Oklahoma.

    Extreme Heat

    As if exceptional drought wasn't enough, this past summer went down in history as the hottest ever for Oklahoma.

    The relentless heat was responsible for many heat-related illnesses and deaths as high temperatures frequently exceeded 100 degrees.

    In fact, one particular weather station in Grandfield, Okla., set a state record in 2011 with 101 total days of temperatures greater than or matching the century mark.

    The average number of days per year that temperatures reach triple digits is less than 40 for the entire state. Most locations in Oklahoma had at least 50 days of temperatures reaching 100 degrees.

    Flash Flooding

    Even with extensive drought, there is such a thing as too much rain.

    To add to the list of extreme weather events, flash flooding was observed with this past week's severe weather outbreak.

    Strong thunderstorms rolled through Oklahoma Monday and Tuesday, unleashing torrential rain, gusty winds and even tornadoes.

    Between 5 and 9 inches of rain fell early this past Monday, producing flash flooding in south central Oklahoma. Later Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning, another 4 to 7 inches fell over central Oklahoma.

    Flash flooding and runoff caused numerous creeks and streams to overflow their banks, closing several small roads in the area.


    A strong autumn storm traversed the central Plains this past week, producing a late-season bout of severe weather over portions of Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.

    The storm system spawned as many as six tornadoes from a single severe thunderstorm late Monday afternoon and evening. See video of those tornadoes.

    Severe weather and tornadoes are not totally uncommon in November, as the southern Plains often experiences a second severe weather season starting in mid- to late fall.

    What made this severe weather event particularly out of the ordinary was the strength of a tornado that ripped through Tipton, Okla. Initially rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, further damage surveys necessitated an upgrade to an EF-4 rating.


    With the upgraded rating, the Tipton tornado became the first EF-4 tornado to occur in November since records began in 1950.

    The estimated wind speeds of an EF-4 tornado are between 166 and 200 mph.

    Oklahoma also fell victim to several deadly tornadoes, including a monster EF-5, earlier in the spring and summer.

    According to the Storm Prediction Center, a major tornado outbreak that unfolded on May 24, 2011 claimed 10 lives in Oklahoma. An EF-5, the highest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, ripped through Canadian and Logan County, killing 9, while an EF-4 claimed one life in Grady County. One person was also killed in Major County when an EF-3 struck.

    In April, two people were killed when an EF-3 tornado tore through Tushka, Okla., mid-month.

    On Aug. 10, 2011, an EF-2 tornado claimed the life of one person in Cherokee County.

    Record Earthquake

    Extremes don't necessarily come from the sky. Sometimes, they can come from the ground.

    To round out the list of extremes experienced in Oklahoma so far in 2011, rare earthquakes rocked the state in record fashion.

    On Nov. 5 at 2:12 a.m. local time, a powerful 4.7 magnitude foreshock occurred 46 miles east of Oklahoma City.

    Later that day, a 5.6 magnitude main shock hit 44 miles east-northeast of Oklahoma City at 10:53 p.m. local time. This set a new state record for largest magnitude earthquake. The previous record was a 5.5 magnitude quake near El Reno on April 9, 1952.


    Ground shaking from the quake was felt up to 300 miles away, including places like St. Louis, Mo., and Dallas, Texas.

    Two days later on Nov. 7, a 4.7 magnitude aftershock occurred 43 miles east of Oklahoma City at 8:46 p.m. local time.

    Smaller aftershocks can continue for weeks after the main shock, but decrease in frequency and intensity.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologist Heather Buchman contributed to the content of this story.

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