This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIA-1301789.
The Oklahoma Weather, Society and Government survey measures Oklahomans' perceptions of weather in our state, and also asks about their views on government policies and societal issues, to help understand how those perceptions and views might shape how Oklahomans use water and energy.
Since winter 2014, at the end of each meteorological season (winter, spring, summer and fall) the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Risk and Crisis Management (CRCM) has surveyed thousands of people all over the state of Oklahoma. Our participants are selected randomly from all mailing addresses in the state; they are contacted by phone and are asked if they wish to be a survey respondent each season until mid-2018. Quite a number of our respondents have taken this survey each season for nearly 3 years, and the survey will continue for another 2 years until spring 2018.
Our respondents represent the diversity that makes Oklahoma great. We have at least one respondent from all 77 counties in the state. Roughly 20% of them live in urban portions of the state, 40% live in suburban parts, and 40% live in rural areas. Many of our respondents live and work on farms and ranches, whereas others work in classrooms, hospitals, banks, and restaurants throughout the state. Our youngest respondents started taking the survey when they were 18 and our oldest respondent just turned 98! We look forward to hearing from each one of them at the end of each season.
The blue dots on the map below represent the location of our survey respondents throughout the state of Oklahoma, and the changing map shows how the number of respondents has changed over time. The green dots on the map show the location of the 120 Oklahoma Mesonet stations as compared to the location of our survey respondents. To learn more about the Oklahoma Mesonet, a rich source of weather data in our state, scroll down and click on the button below.
There are 120 Oklahoma Mesonet stations across the state of Oklahoma. The Mesonet takes scientific measurements of a broad range of weather conditions every five minutes, creating a rich source of data about weather in our state.
At the end of each season, we ask Oklahomans to tell us about their perceptions of that season's precipitation. We ask them:
In the area around where you live (by this we mean within about ten miles of your residence), would you say that the amount of precipitation that fell this [season name] was more, less, or about the same amount as in previous [season name]?
The graph on the left below displays these perceptions of precipitation by season, and the map on the right shows the actual precipitation for each completed season as measured by the Oklahoma Mesonet. We compared the Mesonet data with the perceptions of our participants to better understand if Oklahomans accurately perceive the precipitation in their area.
The match between the colors in the bar graph and the colors on the map shows that in general, Oklahomans are doing a pretty good job in accurately perceiving the amount of precipitation in their area, season by season!
At the end of each season, we also ask Oklahomans to tell us what their perceptions of that season's temperatures were. We ask them:
In the area around where you live, would you say that this [season name] has been warmer, cooler, or about the same as previous [season name]?
We compared these perceptions of temperature in each season to the actual temperatures as measured by the Oklahoma Mesonet. Compare how Oklahomans' perceptions of temperature match up to the actual recorded temperature below. Each image has a graph of respondent perceptions for that season, along with a map of corresponding Mesonet temperature data.
As the color matches display, in general, Oklahomans are doing a pretty good job in accurately perceiving the temperature in their area, although the match between perceived temperature and actual temperature is not quite as strong as it was for precipitation.
Oklahoma Weather, Society and Government respondents get their information about weather from a variety of sources. The graphic below shows the popularity of various sources of weather information for respondents that answered this question at the end of fall 2015. Respondents are allowed to select as many options as they like from among these choices. Nearly all survey participants get weather information from local TV news, but many other sources of information are also popular, including getting information from family and friends, from websites such as weather.com, the radio and others.
Not only do we ask our participants questions about the weather, but also about their perceptions of water availability, and about their personal water use. The graph below shows what people around the state of Oklahoma are saying about their perceptions of water availability in their region. Each season, we ask:
In your view, are the supplies of water in your region of Oklahoma adequate to meet the needs of your community over the next 25 years?
We also ask:
In your view, are the supplies of water in your region of Oklahoma adequate to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers over the next 25 years?
The following graphic shows that over time, just over 60% of our respondents each season tell us that they believe that water supplies in their region will be adequate to meet the needs of their community over the next 25 years. Consistently over time, our respondents are significantly less confident that water supplies in their region are adequate to meet the needs of farmers/ranchers over that same period.
Note: confidence in water availability in the future increased with the heavier-than-usual spring rains in the spring of 2015
Because Oklahoma regularly experiences drought conditions, we also ask our respondents to tell us what they have done in the past season to conserve water. We ask:
Were any of the following steps taken to decrease the amount of water used at your residence this fall? [Please check all that apply]
- Installed a low-volume or low-flush toilet
- Installed a low-volume or low-flow showerhead
- Took shorter or less frequent baths or showers
- Watered lawn or garden less frequently
- Washed car less frequently
- Repaired leaks
- Did laundry less frequently
- Other (please specify) _________________
As shown in the graphic below, in fall 2015 the most popular way respondents conserved water was to water their lawn or garden less frequently.
If you are interested in seeing what Oklahomans are saying about other topics related to weather, climate, and water issues in this state, send us a suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you to all of our survey respondents for their participation in, and continuing support for the Oklahoma Weather, Society and Government survey. Please remember to watch for the next wave of the survey near the beginning of each new season.