Now that we are into 2011, time for a brief look back at 2010. As mentioned this morning, December extended our dry spell which goes back to the middle of July and we finished the year almost 8" below normal in precipitation. That means we are heading into our driest time of year with a moisture deficit already in place and that does not bode well regarding the wildfire potential this winter and spring. You have to go back to 2005 for the last calendar year in which we were drier than the long term normal.
With respect to temperatures, we started 2010 with a brutal Jan and Feb and below normal temperatures continued into March. The rest of the year was warmer than normal until December which finished up about a degree cooler than normal. For the year as a whole, 2010 was only two tenths of a degree warmer than the long term normal with records extending back to 1905 for Tulsa. This reverses a trend of below normal temperatures which were recorded for the previous two years. However, since 1998 there have only been three years (2000, 2008 & 2009) which have been at or below normal with respect to temperatures.
As for severe weather, the final tally will not be known for several weeks or more, but at last count we had recorded about 20 more tornadoes than normal across the state during 2010.
As for the coming year, we look at a number of teleconnections around the world to get at least a general idea of what may happen. At present, the weather patterns for our hemisphere are dominated by the cool phase of the ENSO(El Nino-Southern Oscillation) cycle which is referred to as La Nina. That pattern should dominate going into Spring and is typically a dry pattern for us Also, the AO(Arctic Oscillation) and NAO(North Atlantic Oscillation) have been strongly negative all through the cool season so far and those trends should persist. These factors should provide us with near to below normal temperatures for the rest of the cool season and also drier than normal conditions until Spring at least.
Hopefully this provides you with some useful information and that your New Year is joyful and prosperous. As always, stay tuned and check back for updates.