So the big winter storm talked about for weeks is finally here. A Winter Storm Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service covering a large part of C and S OK. Additional warnings and advisories will continue to be issued for this event in other areas. Monday’s blog gave you the early details and now that the storm is underway, I’ll narrow down specifics.
First off, keep in mind that winter weather forecasting is extremely challenging. It all comes down to a few miles and just a degree or two to change everything. In our case, we’ve been focused on the cold air in place and the exact track of the upper level low. Today, the computer models wobble the low up north along the Red River instead of going through DFW as it approaches I-35. That leads a big difference in winter precipitation amounts across the area. The second point of interest is the position of the 700mb low, which will be located N of the Red River. The heaviest snows fall along this feature’s path.
Finally, freezing rain and drizzle will continue through this evening with sleet being thrown into the mix overnight before changing to snow in C OK. NE OK including Tulsa will see mostly ice for this event.
The first map below is the position of the 700mb low according to the European model. Again, the take home is that this is the most likely area for the highest snow totals. How much? Up to 10 inches is possible. The amounts will slowly trail off north of this feature.
How much snow will there be? The Euro is a little excited in my opinion but here’s a quick look:
In my opinion, the final snow totals will be more of a blend of these two:
In each map you noticed a top west to east line of a sharp gradient. I believe the NAM is more representative of where this line will set up. The Canadian is a little too far north. The reason is because we’re going to get the ice overnight in the form of freezing rain and sleet.
So here’s everything summarized…
Light freezing rain and drizzle with occasional rounds of sleet will continue to expand northward through Oklahoma this evening and overnight. Expect the OKC metro to get mostly freezing rain until early morning hours where sleet will transition in. Amounts about a 0.25″ of each type. Tulsa will get the same. This icy stuff will fall elsewhere in the pink colors of the above map. Then around 6am Thursday morning, the icy mix will transition to snow across OKC as the upper low approaches, bringing a colder vertical thermal temperature profile. It snows all day in OKC and areas in C/S OK. Amounts will vary from 4-6″ with higher amounts close to 10″ near the track of the 700mb low down south. The snow will approach Tulsa by late afternoon but it may not push through the city, causing the ice to linger and accumulate. This could cause devastating ice accumulations greater than 1″ on elevated surfaces in NE OK. Something the models really haven’t picked up on. It comes down to the final temp profile, so the potential is there and not to be ignored. The whole system moves out of the state by early Friday morning.
If needed, I’ll update again. Otherwise expect a decent winter storm to hit the state over the next 36 hours. Please share with friends and family! -AT