One thing that stood out after our 1.79 inches of rain on the 11th and 12th… no puddles. The ground took ALL of it. It’s about time and no wonder. Prior to that rain event… we had recorded only 3.68 inches of rain since July 12! Less than four inches of rain in about four months – hot, summer months – had made the ground hard as a rock. What is left of the garden seemed to enjoy it immensely.
Satellite pictures after the storm system had departed showed extensive cloud cover to our east… but also several areas of snow cover. One patch in the Texas Panhandle came very close to the Oklahoma Panhandle. On November 12th, Amarillo set a snowfall record of 3.0 inches. The previous record was 2.5 inches set in 1976.
The amazing weather event of November 11, 1911 has been talked about ad nauseam each time the date rolls around. This time, I would like to throw in a couple of weather maps which further explain the event.
No matter how many times it is brought up, I still find it astounding the extremes of weather that were felt in our state that day. Weather forecasting was very limited and basically nothing more than extrapolation. What forecasts were issued, had little chance of reaching those folks living in rural areas. It became very important for farmers and ranchers to become “weatherwise”. You would be hard pressed to find someone today that is more than 70 years old that if confronted by 80 degree temperatures in fall or winter – wouldn’t tell you that cold weather was on the way. Today, forecasters look for pattern recognition in the many sets of model data that are available. In 1911, pattern recognition was simply going outside and looking at the sky – observing the wind and feeling the temperature. Those capable on November 11, 1911 might have left the house wearing light weight clothing, but had their cold weather gear thrown in the wagon somewhere. Those that were not capable of reading the signs might very well have frozen to death before making it back to the house.
Daily weather maps were produced each day at 8:00 A.M. Some find that hard to believe, but they actually were produced in some form all the way back into the 1870′s. Needless to say, the quality of the data could be very much in question.
Still, as we look at the weather map for Saturday, November 11, 1911 at 8:00 A.M. – we see several areas of strong low pressure stretched along a very strong cold front extending from Wisconsin to Kansas to the Oklahoma Panhandle. The positive tilt of this front makes it very conducive for strong southwest winds to blow out of New Mexico and west Texas – across Oklahoma and into the Midwest. For much of the day… Oklahoma would experience record warmth with temperatures mostly in the 80′s and pushing 90 degrees in the south. Little did many know just how fast the approaching front was coming or how cold it was going to be on the other side.
The front did blast through quickly enough to allow temperatures to fall into the teens and 20′s over much of the state with howling northwest winds. By 8:00 A.M. on the 12th… the front had already surged to the far eastern U.S. with bitter cold air settling into the state. Those caught out in what became known as “The Great Blue Norther of 11/11/11″ found themselves in life-threatening situations.
In Oklahoma City, the high temperature on that date was a record 83 degrees. By midnight… the temperature had fallen to a record low of 17 degrees. Both of these records still hold today – as well as the 66 degree temperature difference in one day. This has all held for 99 years and of course next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Great Blue Norther. This is the only date in the city’s history where a record high and record low occurred on the same day.
Not a lot of weather to talk about lately… which explains the lack of blog entries.
If you wonder why things are so dry outside…. we have logged a total of 3.68 inches of rain since July 12th! Almost four months! The good news is that some significant rainfall appears to be just around the corner.
The first freeze of the season occurred on November 5th when the temperature dropped to 30 degrees. This was three days later than the average of November 2nd.