By Gary McManus
June managed to pack pieces of three seasons into a single month. The first 10 days were quite springlike, with abundant rainfall and high temperatures in the 70s and 80s. That there was very little in the way of severe weather was a bonus for this period, as was the drought reduction across much of the state. Drought coverage dropped from 43% of Oklahoma at the end of May to 31% at the end of June according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the worst two categories of drought—extreme and exceptional—fell from 17% to 5% over that same period. A strong burst of sweltering summer weather dominated for the next couple of weeks that saw relentless sunshine and high temperatures more befitting mid-July than mid-June. High temperatures reached as high as 110 degrees during the month’s middle stanza, and heat index values were as high as 120 degrees. While the month ended with more summer heat, a strong cold front during that last week dropped temperatures back down into the 70s and 80s for a few days—a nice sneak preview of the fall weather to come in a few months’ time.
The statewide average rainfall total finished at 3.76 inches according to data from the Oklahoma Mesonet, falling 0.5 inches below normal and ranking as the 63rd driest June since records began in 1895. Rainfall totals ranged from 9.36 inches at Weatherford—an unusual feat for a western Oklahoma site to have a month’s highest rainfall—to 1.16 inches at Lahoma. Twenty-two of the Mesonet’s 120 sites collected at least 5 inches of rainfall for the month, although another 14 recorded under 2 inches. The heaviest totals ran in two strips across the state from west to east: the first from west central through southeast Oklahoma, and the second from central through east central Oklahoma. Surpluses ranged from 1-5 inches in these areas.
Deficits of 2-3 inches occurred in north central, northwestern, and south central Oklahoma. The January through June period had a statewide average of 17.62 inches, 1.2 inches below normal and ranked as the 68th driest first 6 months of the year on record.
The statewide average temperature was 78.8 degrees, 1.5 degrees above normal and ranked as the 30th warmest June on record. Heat dominated the month for the most part, although significantly cool weather enveloped the state during June’s first 10 days and also part of its final week. High temperatures in the Panhandle failed to escape the 60s during the month’s first two days, but also on the 26th and 27th. Low temperatures dropped to a chilly 48 degrees at the Eva Mesonet site on June 28, the lowest reading of the month. The Mesonet recorded triple-digit temperatures on 15 days during June. Altus soared to 110 degrees on June 12 for the month’s highest reading. That was also the highest temperature recorded by the Mesonet in the state since Aug. 28, 2020, and the highest June reading since 2013 when Freedom hit 111 degrees on the 27th of that month. Based on statewide averages, June 12 was the hottest day in the state since July 14, 2020, and the hottest June day since June 27, 2012. Heat index values soared during the hottest part of the month. The Mesonet site at Webbers Falls had the month’s highest heat index of 120 degrees on the 12th. The highest heat index ever recorded on the Mesonet—dating back to 1997—was 125 degrees from Calvin on Aug. 9, 1999. The Mesonet observed heat index values of at least 110 degrees 103 times during the month. The January-June statewide average temperature was 56.2 degrees, 0.1 degrees below normal and ranked as the 42nd warmest such period on record.
The hopes for a mild and wet July are a bit slim, at least according to the outlooks from the Climate Prediction center. They show increased odds of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. CPC’s July drought outlook calls for drought to redevelop across western, southeastern, south central, and northeastern sections of the state by the end of July. Rapid drought development, or “flash drought,” is of particular concern if prolonged and unusually hot and dry weather materializes.
By Gary McManus