If there was a weather event to be had, Oklahoma has had it. Tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, record heat, a drought and now earthquakes have all had a dramatic effect on the state in 2011.
Let's take a look back at the year, beginning in February. The blizzard of 2011 dumped more than 20 inches of snow, sleet and ice on the state. We saw the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state on February 10 in Nowata at -31 degrees. That same day, the state's heaviest snowfall in a 24-hour period occurred as 27 inches fell in Spavinaw.
Once we thawed out, it was time for the Spring storms to hit. In fact, those storms hit with a vengeance. On May 24, an E-F5 tornado ripped through the state, causing nearly a dozen deaths and massive destruction of homes and businesses. On that same day, the state recorded the highest wind speed with a gust of 151 mph during the tornado. On May 23, one day before the deadly tornado, the state saw its largest hailstone. It was 6 inches in diameter, crashing down in Gotebo.
Just when we thought tornado season was over, the twisters returned in November. On Monday, November 7 at least two tornadoes touched down in southwestern Oklahoma, destroying an Oklahoma State University Extension office and damaging several homes. There hasn't been a record number of tornadoes this year, but meteorologists say the number is above average for the state at 106 tornadoes so far. The record number of tornadoes in Oklahoma remains at 145 in 1999.
Oklahomans who managed to survive Oklahoma's Tornado Outbreak, were faced with another slam by Mother Nature: the hottest summer on record. Oklahomans suffered through the summer of 2011 with the hottest average recorded temperature in the state's history. In fact, the state also had a record number of consecutive 100+ degree days. That number was 62. If that wasn't enough to deal with, the lack of rainfall depressed the state with the worst drought since the 1920's. The summer of 2011 is now on the books as Oklahoma's second driest year since 1921.
The extreme heat wasn't just miserable for people, but animals and crops. Farmers dealt with one of the worst summers with a 30 to 50 percent reduced production depending on the crop and for those who didn't irrigate, the loss was greater.
Apparently that wasn't enough, Mother Nature decided to throw in some earthquakes. On Saturday, November 5, a 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit the state. It was the largest in the state's history. The quake was felt as far away as Dallas and Des Moines and followed up by nearly 20 aftershocks. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 4.7 magnitude quake centered about 5 miles northwest of Prague struck at 8:46 p.m. Monday, November 7. The survey had reported at least five additional tremors since the initial earthquake hit Saturday night. Up until Saturday, the largest earthquake occurred in El Reno back in September 1952 measuring 5.5 magnitudes.
Oklahoma's first recorded earthquake occurred in September 1918. After that, the state typically has had around 50 earthquakes a year up until 2009. Last year, 1,047 earthquakes shook the state. 103 of these earthquakes were reported as being felt. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, the increase in earthquakes is unusual. Even so, the OGS says while the frequency of earthquakes has temporarily increased in Oklahoma, these earthquakes do not appear to be inconsistent with what might be called normal seismicity for Oklahoma.
So to say Oklahoma has seen some unique weather this year would be an understatement. And to top it off so far, on Monday, November 7, the state experienced an earthquake, tornados and flooding all in one day. Hold on Oklahoma, the year isn't over yet.