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November Sees More Drought, Tornadoes

Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2020

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. The first struck near Kinta in Haskell County around 9 p.m., destroying a mobile home and damaging other structures. The second came about an hour later near Spiro in Le Flore County and damaged a barn. The November tornadoes brought the unofficial 2020 total to 39 according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service, well below the 1951-2019 annual average of 57.4, and dwarfed by 2019’s record total of 149. This year’s tally would also mark the state’s lowest since 2009’s 34 confirmed twisters.


According to preliminary data from the Oklahoma Mesonet, the statewide average temperature was 53 degrees to rank as the 10th warmest November since records began in 1895, 3.7 degrees above normal. November was also the first month since June to finish warmer than normal statewide. The month’s lowest reading of 12 degrees – also the lowest for the season thus far – was reported at Hooker on the 31st. The Mesonet recorded a slew of 70s and 80s during the month, including November’s highest reading of 86 degrees at both Arnett and Goodwell on the 19th. The warm November somewhat offset the cooler than normal September-October period, but the climatological fall (September-November) still finished 0.6 degrees below normal with an average of 60.2 degrees, the 41st coolest autumn on record. The first 11 months of the year were the 35th warmest on record with a statewide average of 62.4 degrees, 0.6 degrees above normal.


The statewide average precipitation total, as measured by the Mesonet, was 1.39 inches below normal at 1.12 inches. That ranks the month as the 37th driest November on record. Only three of the Mesonet’s 120 sites finished with above normal precipitation for November: Beaver, 1.08 inches; Burbank, 2.23 inches; and Foraker at 2.63 inches. Miami actually led the state with 3.44 inches, but that total still fell below their November normal of 4.13 inches. Arnett brought up the rear with 0.24 inches, and 60 other Mesonet sites failed to receive at least an inch for the month. Deficits were generally around an inch, although areas of east central and southeastern Oklahoma fell 2-3 inches below normal. The fall average total of 8.6 inches was 0.98 inches below normal to rank as the 59th wettest on record. Deficits of 4-6 inches were isolated in parts of far southwestern, southeastern, and east central Oklahoma. Otherwise, amounts were either close to or within 2-3 inches of normal. The first 11 months of the year finished 2.34 inches above normal at 36.78 inches across the state, the 27th wettest January-November on record. There was a stark difference in moisture totals across the state, however, with deficits of up to 11 inches for that period in the southwest to surpluses of nearly 18 inches in east central Oklahoma.


Drought coverage dropped from 34% of the state at the end of October to 11% after the first two weeks of November. The prolonged dry weather resulted in an increase to 25% coverage at the end of November. The December outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) indicate increased odds of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation across the entire state. Despite those possible outcomes, CPC’s December drought outlook does not see further drought development as likely during December.