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Overachieving Severe Season Continues During May

Oklahoma continued to suffer from severe weather in May, marking an exceptionally active spring storm season. The state recorded four more storm-related fatalities in May, bringing the total to eight in 2024, along with hundreds of injuries. At least 43 tornadoes touched down in May, following a record-breaking 55 tornadoes in April, surpassing the previous high of 54 in 2012. With two additional tornadoes in March, the preliminary total for 2024 stands at 100, a number that may rise as National Weather Service personnel continue to assess storm damage.

June Teases Several Seasons

June managed to pack pieces of three seasons into a single month. The first 10 days were quite springlike, with abundant rainfall and high temperatures in the 70s and 80s. That there was very little in the way of severe weather was a bonus for this period, as was the drought reduction across much of the state. Drought coverage dropped from 43% of Oklahoma at the end of May to 31% at the end of June according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the worst two categories of drought—extreme and exceptional—fell from 17% to 5% over that same period.


May Rains Dent Drought

May’s reputation as Oklahoma’s most prolific severe weather month was confirmed within the first week with as many as 21 tornadoes in the month’s first five days. While most of that count were weak EF0 or EF1 tornadoes, they were damaging, nonetheless. That total also included two strong EF2 twisters that struck both Earlsboro and Seminole on May 4. The Earlsboro tornado traveled in nearly a complete circle, producing damage in the southeast side of the city first and then the northeast side along its circuitous route.

October Sets Tornado Record

Oklahomans are growing accustomed to Mother Nature’s October weather shenanigans following a snowstorm of up to 13 inches in 2019 and a crippling ice storm in 2020. A spring severe weather motif was chosen for October 2021 with at least 31 tornadoes touching down during the month, besting the previous October record total of 27 set back in 1998. That preliminary total also surpasses the 25 twisters tallied during the first nine months of the year. While most of the tornadoes were considered weak—rated EF0 or EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale—they were damaging, nonetheless. Oct.

Drought Makes September Push

The 17th warmest and driest September in Oklahoma since records began in 1895 allowed drought to flourish during the month. Categorized as “flash drought,” its rapid onset and intensification occur when abnormally high temperatures and below normal precipitation persist for an extended period. Most often a warm season phenomenon, abundant sunshine and strong winds can also aid in its progression. Those are precisely the conditions Oklahoma experienced when previously abundant rains tapered off during early August and sweltering heat returned shortly thereafter.


Drought Returns During Arid August

A run of hot, dry weather finished off climatological summer in true Oklahoma fashion following a delightfully mild first two months of the season. There was very little in the way of severe weather during the month, just a smattering of hail and high wind reports scattered about the state. A hazard of another kind managed to flourish in the arid conditions, however, with drought once again gaining a toehold across parts of northwestern Oklahoma. The USDA indicated 43% of the state’s topsoil was considered short to very short of moisture by the end of the month.


Historically Frigid February Punctuates Winter

Oklahoma experienced a historic cold air event during February, boosting the month into the company of other legendary frozen periods from calendar pages long torn away and discarded. February 1895, February 1899, and January 1930 all suffered through exceedingly long cold spells. More recently, December 1983 still lives in the minds of many Oklahomans as the bellwether of cold months, which followed those winters of the late 1970s when bone-chilling cold was simply a way of life; but those cold times were more than 37 years ago.

November Sees More Drought, Tornadoes

November’s weather struggled to live up to the level of excitement provided by October’s historic cold snap and ice storm, although it had its moments. Following that burst of moisture just before Halloween, some areas of the state went more than a month without seeing at least a quarter inch of rain in a single day. Other areas saw Oklahoma’s weather at its worst, however. Storms on the 24th brought severe weather back to the state with damaging winds and hail up to the size of golf balls. At least two tornadoes touched down that day in southeastern Oklahoma.