Wednesday, March 2, 2011

State Record: -31°... Coldest temperature in Oklahoma

(ABOVE: Channel 2 photographer Thomas Berger and I visit the location where a record -31° was measured.

Click HERE for the video on KJRH.

During the first two weeks of February 2011, nearly every major snow and all-time low temperature records were broken.

In addition to record lows and highs being set within a week, the following records fell in Tulsa: Most snow in 24 hours (14.0") , most snow in one month (22.5") , most snow in one season (26.1") . A new state record was also set for most snow in 24 hours: 27" near Spavinaw.

(ABOVE: Meteorologist Phil Browder chats with me about the all-time state record. Phil used to work in TV before he got smart and earned a job with OCS.)

The snow slowly evaporated, and the evaporational cooling helped create record cold conditions in Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma. With the snow piled high, Tulsa dropped to -12° on the morning of February 9, 2011-- that's the coldest in Tulsa in 80 years. The long-standing state record of -27° was shattered too, as the temperature plunged to -31° near Nowata. The temperatures in Pryor and Bartlesville dropped to -30° and -28°. This area experienced unrivaled cold after a narrow swath of 15-25" of snow fell north and northeast of Tulsa.

(ABOVE: The old thermometer was removed for testing and a new thermometer is installed)

To verify the new records, weather officials (Oklahoma Climate Survey) maintaining the Oklahoma Mesonet traveled to Nowata. (Click here for the video) I witnessed history: we met up with the crew at the exact location where the record -31° occurred. It felt awesome to stand on that snow-covered farm as OCS removed and swapped out the record measuring thermometer.
(I took this picture at River West Park in Tulsa on March 2, 2011. More than three weeks after the blizzard, this 10 feet high pile of snow remains! The city dumped snow here when clearing streets.)

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