Winter made a striking return to Oklahoma in January, surprising a state that had just experienced its fourth-warmest December on record. This frosty resurgence brought with it a myriad of wintry phenomena, including freezing fog, freezing rain, snowstorms, a blizzard warning, an ice storm warning, and the lengthiest stretch of sub-freezing temperatures since the infamous Arctic air outbreak of February 2021. Following a seasonably mild first week, Arctic air surged southward in multiple waves.
December was unusually warm across all of Oklahoma, and uncommonly wet across the northwestern third. A prolonged absence of Arctic air led to the state’s fourth warmest December since records began in 1895, and contributed to 2023’s rank as the 10th warmest calendar year. The month continued a string of Decembers with above normal temperatures in the last decade. The Decembers of 2019 and 2015 ranked as the 13th and sixth warmest across the state, respectively.
The Oklahoma Mesonet’s temperature data tell the story of a dry and unusually warm November, but there was actually a good dose of winter during the month, as well as a nice measure of rain at the end. The state’s first significant wintry precipitation of the season fell in the state on Thanksgiving Weekend across the northwestern half. Totals generally ranged between 2-4 inches, but a swath of 4-6 inches occurred across far northwestern Oklahoma and the eastern Panhandle. Isolated totals of 8-9 inches were reported in parts of Beaver and Harper counties.
The flash drought that had plagued the southwestern half of Oklahoma since mid-July appeared poised to explode across the entire state during October. As it began its northward advance, however, assistance arrived in the form of three distinct storm systems that not only halted the drought's advance but reversed its course. The first storm originated from the Tropical Pacific off the West Coast of Mexico.
Our 30th anniversary is quickly approaching. We know folks love the anniversary extremes T-shirts, but sometimes you just need a little bit more. We love our maps. We wanted to share an extremes list where we could focus on maps and photos to tell the story. A 2024 calendar seemed like the perfect format.
Flash drought continued to advance and intensify across the southwestern half of Oklahoma during September, aided by scorching hot weather and a prolonged dry spell that had stretched to more than 60 days in some areas. While there was some relief during September from the dry and hot conditions—the weather cooled considerably during the month’s second week to go along with heavy rains—summer weather returned soon thereafter for the remainder of the month.
Oklahoma tried its best Al Pacino impression from “The Godfather Part III” during August, being pulled back into drought after nearly escaping its clutches completely thanks to record moisture the previous three months. The heat and dry weather roared back with a vengeance, however, and flash drought erupted for the second consecutive summer. Only 13% of the state was in drought on Aug. 8 according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, contained entirely in small patches across far southwestern and north central Oklahoma.