What did you think of 2016? Was it a hot year? A cooler than average year? Would you believe that the summer was close to average?
Where the heat really came in was the spring and fall. Those were the seasons that climbed way above average.
For the year, 2016 was slightly warmer than the long-term 15-year Oklahoma Mesonet average from 2001-2015. Putnam and Minco were the warmest locations at 3 degrees above their average air temperatures. Most of the eastern side of Oklahoma was 2 degrees above average. In the west, most Mesonet sites were 1 degree above average.
Monthly temperature maps with the departure in air temperature from Mesonet’s 15-year monthly averages give us a detailed look of how air temperatures varied over the year. Locations with a zero were average for the month. Positive air temperature departures were warmer than average conditions. Negative air temperature averages meant the month was below the 15-year long-term monthly average.
January air temperature averages hovered right around the 15-year average with lots of zeros, and a scattering of minus and plus ones.
The heat was turned on in February. Monthly average air temperatures were 5 to 9 degrees above average.
The warmth continued in March with temperatures 2 to 5 degrees above average. The warmer conditions in February and March pushed winter wheat and canola maturity.
Temperatures were close to average in April with some slightly cooler areas in the west, average areas, and slightly above average areas in the northeast.
May was cooler across the state with air temperature averages 2 to 4 degrees below normal. Those cooler conditions turned out to be good for maturing wheat and canola. Cooler conditions limited heat stress.
June was a mix of above average temperatures in the southwest, average conditions, and warmer conditions across most of Oklahoma.
July was on the mild side with air temperatures average or slightly above average.
August was a surprise with temperatures 2 to 3 degrees below average for most of the state. No location was above average.
There was a switch in September with lots of warmer areas, 1 to 4 degrees above average. The lone location below average was Altus.
The warmth intensified in October with temperatures 4 to 7 degrees above average.
And the warmth continued in November with temperatures 3 to 6 degrees above the monthly average. The Fall warmth was great for maturing summer crops.
2016 finished out with cooler temperatures across most of Oklahoma in December. The northern three quarters of the state ranged from 1 to 3 degrees below average. The southeast corner was the exception at 1 to 2 degrees above average for the month.
The annual average is a single total of daily above and below average temperature variation. It’s a good starting spot. Monthly departures from average help us understand how weather conditions added up through the months and seasons.