The Woodward News

November 9, 2012

Numbers show October cooler than normal

Gary Engel
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — NORMAN - The cool temperatures for October were a bit out of the normal.

Gary McManus, associate state climatologist at the Oklahoma Mesonet said 25 of the 30 months prior to October were warmer than normal.

"But for October 2012, the month came in as the 26th-coolest 10th month on record in the state," said McManus. "The average was 59.7 degrees, and that's 1.6 degrees below normal."

He said there were some warmer days during the month, but the cool weather hit a little earlier than usual.

Some frosty Arctic air visited during the month, McManus noted.

"The thermometer hit 31 degrees on Oct. 8 at Will Rogers World Airport, the earliest freeze ever for that observing station," he said.

There was another cold spell the last week of the month, and that brought freezing conditions to the southern part of the state, which also was an earlier-than-normal event for the area, McManus said.



DROUGHT PERSISTS

While temperatures were cooler, the month was still dry.

"For the month, the Mesonet stations at Cheyenne and Retrop recorded no precipitation in October," he said.

From 1971 to 2000, the Mesonet lists Woodward County normally averaging 2.15 inches of moisture for October. This year, 1.60 inches was collected. On the 12th, 1.53 inches was measured with .04 of an inch on the 13th, and then nothing for the rest of the month.

The remaining .03 of an inch came on Oct. 1.

McManus said that by Oct. 31, it had been as many as 34 days since portions of Southern and Western Oklahoma got even a tenth of an inch of rain during a given day.

"Dating back to September of this year, there were as many as 48 days without some place receiving at least a quarter of an inch," he said. "For Woodward, it has been as long as 53 straight days since at least a quarter-inch of rain fell."

McManus said Northwest Oklahoma in particular has been hit the hardest by the current drought conditions.

The climatologist said the drought monitor, updated Nov. 1, showed that extreme to exceptional drought covered more than two-thirds of the state. "Exceptional" is the most serious condition, followed closely by "severe."

The "exceptional" measurement included Woodward, Ellis, Harper, Woods, Major, Alfalfa, Texas, and most of Beaver County. Cimarron, much of Dewey (except for a northwest area in "exceptional" drought), Roger Mills, Blaine and Custer counties were in the "severe" category.



LITTLE RELIEF EXPECTED

Forecasters expect little relief for the parched landscape. McManus said the National Weather Service's (NWS) outlook for the remainder of November shows warmer than normal temperatures and below normal rainfall.

"We expect it to stay that way right through fall," he said.

The likelihood of a helpful El Nino condition developing, a warming of equatorial currents in the Pacific, appears meager.

McManus explained that if one appears, El Nino sometimes leads to cooler and wetter conditions across the southern U.S. into early spring.

"The lack of those conditions, combined with the South Plains entering its normally-driest part of the year, leads to a fairly pessimistic drought outlook from the NWS Climate Prediction Center," he said.

If the situation continues, or becomes worse, through January 2013, the odds are enhanced for entering next spring with a significant drought remaining in place, said McManus.

The Mesonet is a string of weather observation stations. There are more than 150 of them across Oklahoma.