Oklahoma registers warmest May in records dating to 1895

OKLAHOMA CITY – Following Oklahoma’s second-coldest April, the state had its hottest May.

Oklahoma’s statewide average temperature for May was 74.6 degrees, breaking the previous record of 74 degrees set in 1962, according to state Climatologist Gary McManus. Data dates to 1895.

“The jet stream retreated to the north a little bit earlier than it usually does, that’s what usually happens during the summer months,” McManus said Friday. “That left us south of the jet stream to bake in the heat.”

Daytime highs consistently reached the 90s, with temperatures above 100 during the final week. High temperatures include 104 degrees and a heat index of 113 in Grandfield in southwestern Oklahoma on the final day of the month.

“It’s just not what we expect from May, more of a June- or July-type pattern,” McManus said. “I don’t know what you could attribute that to.”

The western third of the state and the Panhandle remained in extreme to exceptional drought, as did large areas of New Mexico and Arizona and portions of Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Utah.

In Altus, cotton and wheat farmer Joe Kelly said the heat is taking a toll on cotton, normally a hot-weather crop.

“It’s too hot. I used to say you couldn’t get too hot for cotton, but the little seedlings are having a difficult time” emerging from the dry land, unless it’s well irrigated. “We just need some more moisture,” Kelly said.

The outlook for moisture anytime soon is not good, McManus said.

“It looks pretty bleak, at least over the next couple of weeks. It looks like it’s going to be hot and fairly dry over most of the state,” McManus said. “If the first couple of weeks of June are dry and warm, that’s not a particularly a good omen. It’s been summer since early May.”

Rainfall totals varied widely statewide during May, even areas near each other, according to the Climatological Survey.

Alva in northwest Oklahoma recorded 9.2 inches of rain during the month, more than 5 inches above normal, while Fairview, 40 miles away, received 1.5 inches, more than 2 inches below average.