Various…

First up… The Great Blue Norther of 11/11/11.  Wednesday, November 11th was a special day in Oklahoma weather history.  It is the only date where Oklahoma City still maintains a record high temperature and record low temperature that occurred on the same day.  On November 11th, 1911… a strong cold front was blasting south through the Plains.   Many record high temperatures were set in advance of the front… only to see record lows set in the hours after frontal passage.  Oklahoma City saw a 66 degree difference between their high and low temperature – 83 degrees to 17 degrees.  One has to wonder how many people froze to death performing outdoor tasks or just traveling due to the lack of weather information broadcast at that time.

2nd… When 27 of the 31 days of the month experience below normal temperatures (as we did in Okarche in October) – the anti-global warming chatter really starts to appear.  It tends to lessen when we have months like the current one where 10 of the 12 days have seen above normal temperatures.  It looks like another couple of warm days are in store before cooler air filters in Saturday night.

3rd… FOG!  From late on November 10th until the morning of the 11th, fog in Okarche – and much of western Oklahoma – reduced visibilities to near zero.  And this was nearly a true zero!  The fog was about as dense as I have ever seen it – in some cases the visibility was around 20 feet here in town.

4th… LACK of precipitation.  It’s been a couple of weeks since the last measurable precipitation in Okarche.  1.61 inches of rain fell on the 29th of October… but we have only seen a trace since then.  As with the temperatures – this looks to be changing this weekend and early next week.

5th… Leonid Meteor Shower.  During the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 17th… the Leonid peak will make its return.  While this years shower favors those watching in Asia… North America may see considerable numbers as well.  We also have the luck of a new moon which occurs the day prior – so, we shouldn’t see much interference from that.  In central Oklahoma, the hope is that we clear out the clouds from the approaching storm in time.

And finally… speaking of the approaching storm – a fairly strong storm system will be making its way through over the weekend.  Rain and cooler temperatures look likely.  With it may also come snow… yeah, I said it.  The most likely area for snowfall would be over northwest Oklahoma – but a rain changing over to snow mix may occur around here as well.  Some model data suggests the potential for accumulating snowfall in the main body of Oklahoma – but with ground temperatures as warm as they are – it shouldn’t last long and travel shouldn’t be impacted too much.

Okarche Precipitation Correction Project

Those that know me, understand that I am rather picky when it comes to weather records.  I don’t want to hear that “two inches” of rain fell when the actual number was 2.01.  Accurate record keeping which leads to accurate extremes, averages and normal’s is very important to me.  It became especially important when I moved to Okarche in 1992 where there was very little in the way of weather observations being recorded.  Yet, this town is located far enough from the cities which did record weather observations to have significant differences.  With respect to Oklahoma City, temperatures here are typically warmer in the summer and colder in the winter.  Less precipitation typically falls – however, with the isolated nature of thunderstorm activity, large differences can occur over relatively small areas.  Also, despite the usually lesser amount of precipitation overall, snowfall is typically greater than what occurs in Oklahoma City.

The history of weather observations in Okarche is a relatively short one.  I immediately started keeping my own records when I moved here in 1992.  I developed averages which extended back to 1981 based on rainfall recorded by a Fisher & Porter gauge here in town.  The Fisher & Porter gauges date back many decades and frequently have quality issues.  For various and sometimes unknown reasons, the gauge will stop working all together.  They also become frozen in the winter which makes recording real time precipitation impossible and false post precipitation data can be recorded when ice and snow melt during the days after the event.  Still, based largely on weather maps and surrounding observation sites, I was able to use the data and provide a “best guess” at when and how much precipitation fell in Okarche dating back to August of 1981.

It saddened me to move away from Okarche from April 12, 2005 until November 26, 2007.  A strong effort had been made during the previous 13 years to develop and maintain an accurate history of the weather that occurred in Okarche, and I wondered if any of that work would ever be continued.  I officially resumed taking weather observations in Okarche when I moved back in late November of 2007.

The issue at hand was the void of data from April 2005 to November 2007.  Particularly disturbing for someone that has a deep interest in weather observing was the fact that several significant weather events occurred during this time.  Luckily, I discovered that Terry Schwarz, a long-time resident of Okarche, had kept accurate monthly precipitation records during the time I was away.  2007 rainfall was incredible.  May and June saw close to 29 inches of rain, a two month total that won’t likely be seen again anytime soon.  Also, the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin moved across Okarche in August of 2007 producing 7.12 inches of rain on the 19th.  The 2007 total of 63.73 inches of rainfall far exceeds the average and previous record and again, won’t likely be matched soon.

During a several week project, I worked hard on not only sorting out daily precipitation records for the period I was away, but also audited the previous data I recorded and retrieved.  There were a handful of errors that needed to be fixed from previous data, but the biggest problem was sorting out daily data from 2005 to 2007.  While Terry’s data was measured accurately on a monthly basis, he had very little in the way of daily breakdowns.  Still, I used his data, Fisher & Porter data, Oklahoma Mesonet data from El Reno and Kingfisher, my data from northwest Oklahoma City, radar estimated precipitation found on NOAA’s Daily Weather Maps and even radar loops from the Storm Prediction Center’s Significant Events page, to come up with the “best guess” of daily precipitation.  The bottom line is that while the information may not be 100 percent correct, I believe it to be the most accurate possible.  This becomes even more important as we approach August of 2010 when a 30 year average will be able to be calculated.

Overall, this information may or may not be useful to anyone in particular.  However, it does give me a great deal of pride knowing that I am continuing to record weather data for an area that didn’t have it (at least in a detailed sense) and knowing that I am part of a large group of thousands of volunteer weather observers that cover this country.

The next step will be an audit of temperature and other weather events with the goal of maximum possible accuracy across all fields.