An extended pattern of warm, dry weather exacerbated drought conditions during November. Drought impacts, including fire danger and soil moisture depletion, increased throughout the month under the pressure from unusually high temperatures and strong winds. At the end of November, much of the area west of Interstate 35 had gone from 20 to 60 days without at least a quarter-inch of rain in a single day. For Boise City, that streak had extended to 95 days. Nearly 42% of the state was in drought by the end of the month according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, but another 38% was considered abnormally dry and in danger of slipping into drought without beneficial moisture soon. There was one burst of excitement from severe weather. An outbreak of severe storms struck central and northeastern Oklahoma the evening of Nov. 10, bringing large hail and damaging winds to those areas of the state. Four tornadoes touched down in northeastern Oklahoma that night, raising 2021’s preliminary total to 60. The annual average tornado total for Oklahoma is 57.2, based on data from 1950 to 2020.
The statewide average precipitation total for the month finished at 0.82 inches, 1.5 inches below normal and ranked as the 29th driest November since records began in 1895. Sallisaw led the month at 2.38 inches. Only five Oklahoma Mesonet sites reached the 2-inch mark. Sixty-eight sites fell below an inch, and two sites—Boise City and Kenton—failed to register any precipitation at all. November rainfall deficits ranged from over 3 inches in far southeastern Oklahoma to about half an inch across the western Panhandle. There were no areas with a moisture surplus. The parched month capped off an exceedingly dry climatological fall, which runs from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30. The statewide average total was 5.81 inches, 3.19 inches below normal, to rank as the 27th driest autumn on record. Miami’s 13.4 inches led the seasonal totals while Kenton’s 0.7 inches captured the low mark. The first 11 months of 2021 had a statewide average of 32.34 inches to finish 1.91 inches below normal, the 61st wettest January – November on record.
The statewide average temperature was 51 degrees, 1.6 degrees above normal and ranked as the 29th warmest November on record. The unusually warm weather was sustained throughout the month with just a few transitory reminders of the actual season. The Mesonet recorded temperatures of at least 80 degrees nine days out of the month, including the final two. Beaver managed 90 degrees on Nov. 7, and Mangum also reached that mark on the 16th, to tie for the highest reading of the month. It did get cold at times, especially in the dry air of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Boise City reached a low of 15 degrees on the 18th for the lowest temperature of the month. The climatological fall ended as the 8th warmest on record with a statewide average of 64 degrees, 2.8 degrees above normal. The January-November period was 0.4 degrees below normal at 61.9 degrees, the 55th warmest such period on record.
With drought beginning to flourish once again, all eyes turn towards December for hopes of relief. The precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is not high on optimism, however, with increased odds of below normal precipitation indicated for the entire state. Those odds are even more enhanced across most of western and southern Oklahoma. Warm weather can increase drought impacts, and CPC’s December temperature outlook shows odds tilted strongly towards warmer than normal conditions across the state, especially the southern half of Oklahoma. With those considerations in place, CPC’s December drought outlook calls for persistence and also intensification of drought across the western two-thirds of the state, but also bleeding into far northeastern Oklahoma. CPC lists their forecast confidence as “high” for the Oklahoma region in December’s drought outlook.