So by now you know there is a winter storm coming. Over the past few days I’ve been providing more details on the what, when, where aspect of it. I’m going to try something here and that is to get very specific 3-4 days out, which is stretching the science a bit in this event as I always caution 48 hours for specific details including snow or ice totals. So buyer beware, but here goes…
Here is a look at the latest data from our short-term model and subsequent forecast. The images you see below start from 3am Friday morning and continue through midnight Friday night. I believe this model has a great handle on the outcome as it looks now. The blue area is snow, freezing rain in red, and sleet in orange. Notice how the I-44 corridor is the dividing line. This also means a very tight gradient across both OKC and Tulsa. Meaning drastic outcomes from one side of town to the other.
To go beyond this period, we have to use the global models. I like the Euro and Canadian for this outcome which shows the upper level trough closing off into an upper low. This provides a boost to the snow output, meaning Saturday will be an exciting day! The transition will occur early Saturday morning across C OK and the storm will move out of the state by Sunday morning.
Euro snow totals for event.
Light freezing rain develops after midnight Thursday and continues through Friday night across the I-44 corridor and points N and W from there into NW OK where it transitions into sleet. NW Oklahoma will see the least impact from this as the thermal profiles suggests more snow and sleet over any freezing rain.
Parts of the OKC metro and Tulsa, mainly south side, could briefly warm above freezing on Friday during the day only to go back below after 6pm. Otherwise expect light freezing rain all day, roads should hold up fine other than bridges and overpasses. Friday night roadways will all become slick and hazardous where wintry precipitation is falling.
Saturday morning expect the slow transition from any leftover freezing rain into sleet and snow. It may go back and forth between sleet and snow for a while as the thermal profile in the atmosphere is right on the border of each type. By noon as the upper low shifts into E OK, it should be all snow for the remainder of the day. Amounts should be fairly substantial due to the baroclinic zone setting up behind the 500 mb low. Notice how the Euro and Canadian both show this heavy band of snow but in different areas. The truth is likely in the middle of each, location wise. Sunday morning the snow exits the state.
Totals: 2″ of rain in SE OK. Up to 0.5″ ice from freezing rain along and N of I-44 by about 30 miles in C OK (includes OKC), about 0.75″ ice in SW OK and around 0.25″ of ice around Tulsa and NE OK. Add an additional 0.25″ of sleet in NW OK and along the I-44 corridor on top of the freezing rain accumulations. Regarding snow, looks like 4-6″ is a conservative call across OKC and Tulsa. Higher amounts on the N and W side of each city verses the S/E. There will likely be an 8″ thin band of snow just NW of OKC stretching through Stillwater and NW of Tulsa. Other areas more in line with the Euro forecast amounts. The exception would be around Ft. Smith and south from there. I do not expect the model to verify with those totals, closer to 2″.
So that’s what I have for you on this Tuesday night. Winter forecasting is always tricky in this state and we typically get either two things to happen, more rain and less frozen stuff, or more ice and less snow. It all depends on 1 to 2 degrees which makes a world of difference whether your ice skating, building the abominable snowman, or crying in the rain.
If you would like to watch the 15 minute recap from Facebook Live Tuesday night discussing this, you can see it below:
I’ll try to update as often as I can, but I have some other obligations which will keep me tied up for most of this event. Please share this blog and consider supporting me on Patreon. The link is below. Thank you! -AT