9 July 2011

A Very Hot Wind Is Sweeping Down The Plain

Posted by Dan Satterfield

From the Oklahoma Mesonet

Image from NWS Norman,OK.

Oklahoma is baking this afternoon! Temps last hour were above 110 at several locations and according to Gene Tyner at the NWS forecast office in Norman:

“June was one of the hottest months in recent memory for Oklahoma and the hottest June on record in the west central and southwest part of the state where the average daily maximum temperature was above 100 degrees for the month. The average daily temperature at Oklahoma City was more than 7 degrees above the 30-year mean and the average daily maximum temperature was 10 degrees higher than the mean.”

The drought level is now at exceptional levels in western Okla. Image from NWS Norman,OK.

This kind of heat is deadly and even more so because of cultural attitudes.  The average person tends to give much more attention to weather hazards like tornadoes and hurricanes, while ignoring the much higher danger of heat, floods and lightning. The statistics show that heat is the number one weather killer in the U.S. (in an average year).

The reason for this incredible heat is the dry ground over western Oklahoma.  The drought over much of the region is the worst on record, and it’s drier than the dust bowl years in many spots. This means the sun’s energy is going into heating the ground instead of evaporating moisture from the soil, and the result is some of the hottest temps seen in Oklahoma since the brutal heat wave of 1980.