Oklahoma Summer Much Hotter In 1934
In a recent post, I accused NOAA of deception, when they included the above map in their State of the Climate Report. I complained that, by simply showing days of over 100F without any proper context or perspective, they were creating the impression that the weather in 2012 was extreme or unprecedented.
In that post I used the example of Kansas, (and in a later post, that of Ohio), to show that earlier years such as 1934, 1936 and 1980 were in fact much hotter. Apparently reader James believes I am cherry picking, and deliberately ignoring areas such as Oklahoma, which lay under what he calls “the super dome of heat” last year.
So, for James’ benefit, (and at great cost!), I can satisfy his curiosity and confirm that Oklahoma summers were also much hotter back in the 1930’s.
Oklahoma Climatological Data
Every State produces, on a monthly basis, a Climatological Data Report. Now under the auspices of the NCDC, in the 1930’s they were published by the Dept of Agriculture. They are all available here.
The Report for July 1934, with a copy below of the front page, makes several observations.
- The mean temperature was 88.0F, and the highest on record. (Curiously, NCDC now show the temperature for July 1934 as 87.3F).
- Average maximum was 102.8F.
- Highest temperature at the individual stations ranged from 105F to 116F.
- Highs of 110F or more were recorded at 52 out of 80 stations, or 65%.
- Excess temperatures (i.e. the amount they were higher than normal) were “general and practically the same in all sections”. In other words, the whole of the state was affected to a similar extent.
Now contrast these statistics with July 2012.
- Mean temperature was 86.0F, down 2.0F. (NCDC no longer show statewide figures for maximums).
- Highest temperatures ranged from 102F to 115F.
- Highs of 110F + were set at 51 out 130 stations, or 39%
It is clear from the above that the heatwave was much more intense in 1934. (In 2012, neither June nor August were exceptionally hot months). But let’s take a closer look at two individual stations, to get some more detail. Both are USHCN stations in small towns.
Meeker has a population of about 1000, and sits in the Central District of Oklahoma. The original monthly Meteorological Records are copied below for July 1934 & 2012. (All of these can be downloaded here.)
Comparing these two years, and also 1936 & 2011, we get the following:-
|Year||Days >= 100F||Days >=107F||Average Max Temp||Highest Temp|
While 2011 was hotter than last year, it still clearly was not as hot as either of the two years in the 1930’s. By comparison, 2012 was not exceptional at all.
Antlers is another small town, with about 2000 inhabitants, and is part of the South East district. Again, we do the same analysis.
|Year||Days >= 100F||Days >=105F||Average Max Temp||Highest Temp|
The evidence, at both Meeker and Antlers, clearly shows that 1934 was hottest of the four years, both in terms of average and extreme temperature. At Meeker, it is apparent that 1936 was also hotter than 2011, though the evidence is mixed at Antlers.
By all measures, July 2012 had many less days over 100F , and top temperatures were significantly less than those recorded in 1934 and 1936.
The evidence at Antlers and Meeker is consistent with the conclusions drawn for the State as a whole.
It is a pity that NOAA seem reluctant for this information to be made public.