Scorching August Closes Out Hot Summer

Scorching August Closes Out Hot Summer
Gary McManus
Associate State Climatologist
Oklahoma Climatological Survey

The end of August brings the climatological summer months (June-August) to a close and data from the Oklahoma Mesonet reveal the worst kept secret in the state – this summer was a hot one. Of course, with Oklahoma weather, the final picture is never that simple. The summer was actually composed of two acts. The first half of the summer was warm and wet, but not overly hot. While June finished as the seventh warmest on record, much of that warmth was due to higher overnight temperatures and was accompanied by plenty of rainfall for most areas. After mid-July, however, the rains ended and the blast furnace heat took hold. Even though July finished with normal temperatures, that fails to paint the true picture of the July heat. Once the rains ended, the sun went to work on the excess moisture and heat indices in the latter half of the month soared above 110 degrees in much of the state. Once that moisture was depleted, Oklahoma’s summertime heat began in earnest.

The statewide average temperature during August was 83.4 degrees, 3 degrees above normal and the 18th warmest since records began in 1895. Only seven days failed to see a triple-digit temperature across the state during the month. The highest temperature of the month, 109 degrees, occurred at Freedom on the second and the 13th. Those two readings were the highest temperatures of the summer as well. The summer ended as the 12th warmest on record with a final statewide average temperature of 81.9 degrees, eclipsing normal by 2.3 degrees. The hottest location in the state during summer was Grandfield with an average temperature of 85 degrees. The coolest location was Boise City with an average temperature of 75.5 degrees. 

Summertime rainfall marched to the same beat as the temperature. The statewide average rainfall for June and the first half of July was 7.61 inches, 2.31 inches above normal and ranked as the 13th wettest such period on record. Following that, the rainfall through the end of August averaged a scant 2.77 inches across the state, 1.66 inches below normal and the 20th driest on record. August itself was dry with a deficit of 1.96 inches to rank as the 35th driest on record. As a whole, summer finished 0.62 inches above normal at 10.39 inches, the 48th wettest summer on record. A couple of Oklahoma City stations took the rainfall trophies home. The Oklahoma City East Mesonet site recorded 19.02 inches of rainfall to lead the summer totals while the Oklahoma City North site had the highest single-day total with 11.26 inches on June 14.