2017 saw its share of wild weather in Lawton
It was the wettest of times, it was the driest of times.
It was the age of floods, it was the age of droughts.
This past year could be a tale of two meteorological extremes a rain-soaked yin and a sun-parched yang, so to speak. Temperatures remained above normal but not too high, as to repeat the dreaded dog days of the summers of 2011 and 2012. But when it was time for summer to give way to fall, it held on for longer than it should have at least until Old Man Winter gave one hard tug at the end of the year, plunging the region into single-digit temperatures. This past year channeled the Roman god Janus with two faces for precipitation and temperatures wet and dry, hot and cold.
Southwest Oklahoma has enjoyed a relatively wet rain pattern over the last three years. After the four-year-long drought, which started in 2010, finally broke in early 2015, water from the skies has been plentiful. Cow ponds have remained filled, lakes have actually overflowed on multiple occasions and the idea that perhaps worries over a prolonged dry pattern that had gripped the region for the previous four years could be put to an end.
Lawton entered a relatively warm start to 2017 on a wet note with nearly 9 inches of surplus moisture from 2016, according to Lawton Constitution records. January precipitation remained slightly above average with 1.56 inches officially tallied at the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport. That moisture included 3 inches of snowfall on Jan. 5 which, while it may have come too early to give students a snow day, did provide for some fun sled rides down Cameron Stadium hill.
That snow didn't last long when temperatures topped the 70s and even hit 83 degrees during the first month of the year. Two days, Jan. 6 and 7, did set record lows, however, with -3 and -5 degree temperatures, respectively.
February proved to be another warm month hitting 91 degrees for the first time of the year on Feb. 11. No low temperature dropped below 26 degrees for the entire month and no high temperature ever dropped below 41 degrees. Most days felt like spring or early summer, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
The wet pattern continued that month with 2.85 inches of rain more than 1.2 inches above normal.
The meteorological spring season between March and May was another warm and wet period with 10.66 inches of rainfall about an inch above normal. Temperatures continued to flirt with record highs throughout the period, including a 99-degree mark on May 27. Thankfully, everyone was headed to the lake for the Memorial Day weekend when it turned blistering hot.
June and July the wettest two-month period over the previous three years still enjoyed plenty of rainfall, but not as much as the next two months. Summer began with 9.04 inches of rain. While temperatures were extremely warm in spring, they remained steady in June hitting 100 degrees only once, on June 23. Much of the month's rainfall came in one day, June 2, when severe storms dropped 3.39 inches of rain on Lawton, flooding many local streets and pushing local creeks out of their banks.
July still received more rainfall than average with 2.80 inches of rain. Temperatures started hitting those uncomfortable triple-digit levels, pushing heat indexes even higher thanks to high humidity levels from the surplus of rainfall. Eight days topped 100 degrees in July with an additional six days coming close at 97 degrees or warmer.
In a surprising twist, August was not only cooler than average with an average high temperature of 92 degrees, but it was also the wettest month of the year. Southwest Oklahoma, and Lawton in particular, was blessed with more than 9 inches of rain at the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport more than four times the average and setting a new record. Unofficial Lawton Constitution records show west Lawton recorded more than 10 inches of rain. The mercury only reached the 100-degree mark once in the entire month. As the days counted down to the end of the month and temperatures only hit 90 degrees once in the final week, there was hope that Southwest Oklahoma could enjoy a traditional, cooler fall season. That was not to be the case.