The Washington Post

Oklahoma earthquake: just one of state’s several record-setting natural events in 2011


Map showing range of where different intensities of earthquake shaking was felt Saturday night. (USGS)

Saturday night’s 5.9-magnitude earthquake was the largest in the state’s history. The quake was felt as far away as Dallas and Des Moines and followed up by nearly 20 aftershocks.

The record earthquake comes on the heels of unprecendented heat across the state this past summer. Oklahoma’s July average temperature was a scorching 88.9 degrees, the warmest to occur in any state during any month on record.


State record hailstone measuring nearly 6” from Gotebo, Ok on May 23, 2011 (National Weather Service)

Other state weather records set in 2011:

* Highest wind speed: On May 24, a mesonet site recorded a wind gust of 151 mph during a tornado.

* Biggest hailstone: In Gutebo, Ok., a hailstone measuring 6” in diameter crashed down on May 23.


Latest map of drought conditions in Oklahoma (U.S. Drought Monitor)

As for the natural hazard Oklahoma is most known for, tornadoes, it’s been an active year with 104 twisters (compared to a 20-year average of 62), but not a record-setter. 1992 holds that distinction when 142 tornadoes touched down. However, Oklahoma may add to its 2011 tornado count this afternoon, as the southwest part of the state is under a tornado watch and a few strong tornadoes are possible.

(hat tip on Oklahoma records: Paul Douglas, Star Tribune weather blog)

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

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