January's high temperatures reach record levels

Thursday, February 2nd 2006, 6:04 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Mild temperatures in January set a new warmth record for the month, according to data released by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

The agency's records date to 1895.

The average temperature statewide in January was 48.9 degrees. The previous record, 48 degrees, was set in 1923.

The same trend could continue into this month, said Ken Gallant, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

During most years, arctic air moves south through the Central Plains during January, Gallant said. This year, that didn't happen.

"If you are going to get it, this is the most likely time of year for it to occur," Gallant said.

Most of the cold air and storm systems have been kept at bay by a vast, upper-level high-pressure zone along the West Coast.

The upper-level high has been deflecting storms to the north into Canada and back down along the East Coast, Gallant said.

The result has been an unusually warm and dry winter for Oklahomans.

And a busy time for firefighters across the state.

"It's a historic event," said Bill Beebe, a fire information officer for Oklahoma's fire command center in Shawnee.

He also noted that Oklahoma's January was warmer than typical Alaskan summers he had seen while working as a firefighter there.

As for February in Oklahoma, "it appears to look like a continuation of what we've been seeing," Gallant said.

Although it was warm across the state, the most significant temperatures stretched from southeast to northeast Oklahoma, according to the survey.

Central Oklahoma's average temperature was 47.5 degrees in January. The past record, 46 degrees, was reached in 1933. Northeast Oklahoma also surpassed a 1933 record of 44.4 degrees with an average of 46 degrees for the month.

Southwest Oklahoma tied a 1923 mark at 47.8 degrees. North-central parts of the state surpassed a 1923 mark of 43.8 degrees at 45.1 degrees.