Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma Earthquake’

The New Normal

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Not everyone is persuaded that our current crazy weather patterns are the result of climate change. But consider the experience of Oklahoma, a state in the heart of “Tornado Alley”. This has been an active year for tornadoes, with 104 having struck the state since January 1 to date, well above the 62 tornadoes that have struck the state annually, on average, over the past twenty years.  But in 2011, extreme environmental conditions have resulted in the full spectrum of natural disasters striking Oklahoma:

  • Earthquake. On Saturday night, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, the most severe in the state’s history, struck Oklahoma. Its effects were felt from Dallas to Des Moines.
  • Heat Wave. Oklahoma experienced unprecedented heat this past summer, with daily average temperatures during the month of July.
  • Drought. More than 99% of Oklahoma is experiencing severe drought, with extreme conditions in 85% of the state. This year to date is the second worst on record for drought; 1921 being the most severe. The drought has also affected Texas, Louisiana and other southwestern states, counting as one of the 2011 record-setting weather disasters.
  • Snow/Record Cold. From extreme heat one month to extreme cold the next, Oklahoma also recorded its coldest temperature on record this year, February 10, at -31 degrees. On that same day, Oklahoma experienced the heaviest 24-hour snowfall on record, with 27 inches of precipitation.

In addition, 2011 witnessed new records for wind speed in Oklahoma, 151 mph gusts during a tornado on May 24, and on the previous day, the largest hailstone crashing down. Given the increasing frequency and severity with which natural disasters strike, we have to be prepared for anything. Call it the “New Normal”.