NOWATA, Okla. - This Winter proves it: records are made to be broken! In less than two weeks we witnessed back to back Winter Storms and record amounts of snow.
Then temperatures plunged! The weather maps showed temperatures well below 0°. All-time records were broken.
-27° WAS the state record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Oklahoma. The -27° was measured in 1930 along the OK/AR state line in Watts. Vinita also dropped to -27° in 1909.
George, "But on the morning of Thursday, February 10, 2011, the temperature dropped to -28° in Bartlesville. That's an all-time record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in BVO."
But even colder? On this snow covered farm 50 miles northeast of Tulsa the temperature plunged even deeper. The evaporating snow cover further cooled the air, and combined with light wind, record cold conditions were created.
George, "Near Nowata, just north of town, the temperature dropped to -31°. Weather officials from the Oklahoma Mesonet will now test the equipment to determine if we officially have a new state record."
The Oklahoma Mesonet is a collection of 120 world class weather stations spaced throughout the state. Every county in Oklahoma has at least one of the weather stations.
Phil Browder is a meteorologist who helps maintain the Mesonet. We met up with him and a technician named John as they travelled to Nowata to retrieve the thermometer.
The -31° was measured by this silver thermometer.
Meteorologists like Phil remotely monitor the Mesonet data from computers, and they are highly confident in the data. But with an an all-time state record at stake, every step is taken to insure an official record.
Phil, "This is gonna go back to our calibration lab back at the National Weather Center. From there we're gonna run it thru a pretty strict stringent of tests. Mainly we're going to put it thru a temperature bath."
When a major temperature record is broken, the equipment is checked to guarantee accuracy.
John, "We had an air sensor here, which you can hear, it's naturally aspirated. So it's gonna catch a temperature change real fast. We have another sensor in here, and they are compared. And that morning they were spot on."
After changing out the thermometers, Phil and John drove away and took the thermometer from Nowata to the National Weather Center in Norman. The results? Precise testing confirmed a new state record!
As expected, the thermometer passed laboratory testing. So it's official, -31° is the new record for the coldest official temperature in Oklahoma.