February 2011 a blizzard paralyzes Green Country. 14 inches of snow fell in Tulsa setting a new daily, monthly and 24 hour record. Travel came to a halt. Schools and businesses were closed for days. It capped our snowiest winter ever with more than 26 inches of the white stuff.
We also set 15 record lows including 12-below zero in Tulsa, and a bone chilling 31-below zero in Nowata, the coldest ever in the state of Oklahoma.
That was followed by a spring that saw a record number of tornadoes. 71 twisters touched down in the Green Country area. We had 25 in one day, the most we've ever had in a 24 hour period. Of course the worst occurred just beyond our state line when an EF-5 ripped through the heart of Joplin, Missouri. 162 people died, and 7,500 homes were destroyed. It is the deadliest single tornado since modern records began.
And we'll never forget the hottest summer in our state's history. In Tulsa 40 temperature records were set including a daytime high of 113 degrees and a warm nighttime low of 87. We had 44 100-degree days, 14 of those were in a row.
It was also one of our driest summers ever. Eastern Oklahoma was in a severe drought. For the first time in 30 years, Tulsa was under voluntary water rationing due to unprecedented water usage. Green Country was literally burning up as wildfires raged on and burn bans were put into effect.
We were shaking on November 5th. Not because of cold weather, but because of dozens of earthquakes that rocked Oklahoma. The strongest, a 5-point-6, was the strongest earthquake recorded in state history.
The weather of 2011 will never be forgotten. Nearly 80 records were set in Tulsa alone. And the year isn't over.
As we face the beginning of winter we would normally expect highs in the 50s, lows in the 20s and 10 inches of snow. But as we all know, our winters can be anything but normal.
So what can we expect this winter? There's a good chance we will escape the worst with warmer and drier weather compared to last year. That's because most storms and cold snaps will stay north of Oklahoma. That doesn't mean we won't get one or two snow or ice storms. But overall I'm expecting a warmer and drier than normal winter.
As for snow? We had a record 26 inches last year. This year look for 6 inches of the white stuff. A far cry from last year's blizzard.
P.O. Box 8 Tulsa, OK 74101-0008