Oklahoma In The Midst Of Tornado 'Drought'

Friday, April 11th 2014, 11:01 am
By: Richard Clark

It's been a long time since a tornado touched down in Oklahoma. In fact, it's been so long it's almost set a record.

The last tornado reported in Oklahoma was on August 8, 2013, according to Gary McManus, State Climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

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It's been 247 consecutive days without a tornado. That's a significant length of time for a state where over the decades tornadoes have been reported in every month of the year.

It's so significant, it's the third-longest streak ever since accurate statistics began being kept in 1950.

The longest streak without a tornado reported in Oklahoma was 292 days from May 17, 2003 to March 3, 2004.

The second-longest streak was 248 days from July 16, 1990 to March 20, 1991. 

If Oklahoma makes it to Sunday, April 13, 2014 without a reported tornado it will become the second-longest streak ever.

So why has Oklahoma gone so long without a reported tornado? There are several reasons.

"The late fall and winter was basically cold with little in the way of significant warm-up periods," said News On 6 meteorologist Alan Crone. "This limited our fall to early-winter severe weather potential and also had a tendency to keep moisture away from the state."

Crone says the same factors that have limited rainfall in Oklahoma have also limited tornado production.

"The frequent frontal passages early this spring have also had a tendency to keep low-level gulf moisture suppressed to the southeast of the state. So these early spring systems have had very little quality moisture in the atmosphere to generate thunderstorms," he said.

"We've only had three inches of rain since January 1st and are now almost five inches below normal from January 1st to date."

Read Alan Crone's weather blog.

Crone is quick to remind everyone that Oklahoma is still right in the middle of Tornado Alley.

"I urge everyone to remember it only takes one very active spring day to catch up quickly. And we're getting ready to move into what is typically the most active period for storms and severe weather from mid-April into the month of May."

There is a good chance of thunderstorms on Sunday, so the streak may end then.

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To set a new record for consecutive days without a reported tornado, we'd have to make it to May 27th, which the weather experts say is highly unlikely.