The high temperature in Okarche reached 76 degrees on both the 28th and 29th. These temperatures set a record high on both days. One extreme deserves another… and our change back to winter is just around the corner.
With regard to the approaching winter storm, we are still two to three days away, but the model data has been coming in with rather tightly arranged solutions. Confidence has increased further that at least part of the state will see extreme winter weather conditions on Tuesday.
Some of the solution changes include shifting the track of the main system further to the southeast. This places more of the central part of the state in position to receive heavy snow. A much colder system is now forecast with a rapid influx of deeper cold air as it arrives late Monday evening and early Tuesday. This may result in a quicker transition to snow with a lesser chance of significant freezing rain. In addition, model solutions now support rapid and deep cyclogenesis in a position southeast of Oklahoma that is a more typical heavy snow producer for our state.
Cold air will begin rapidly moving southeast into and through Oklahoma on Monday. The freezing line will make it into southeast Oklahoma by late afternoon. During the overnight Monday into Tuesday, temperatures will steadily fall as the cold air deepens.
Widespread precipitation will begin to break out just before Midnight, Tuesday in response to an approaching strong mid level storm system. This system will also be responsible for rapidly deepening surface low pressure near the Texas gulf coast. This surface low will move rapidly northeastward reaching western Tennessee by late Tuesday. This track is one which has produced heavy Oklahoma snowfalls in the past. Snowfall rates are expected to increase dramatically as the system further organizes and moves away from the state. Therefore, the heaviest snowfall totals are likely to occur in eastern Oklahoma.
Freezing rain may still be a problem along and behind the freezing line where the depth of the cold air is not sufficient to allow the precipitation to be in the form of snow. This zone is likely to be quite narrow and as with the overall forecast… it has shifted southeastward a bit over the past 48 hours. Areas that do see freezing rain will also see a change-over to snow before the precipitation quickly ends during the late afternoon on Tuesday.
Besides the travel issues associated with freezing rain and accumulating snows, some power issues are likely as well. These will be enhanced by north winds of 20 to 30 m.p.h. which will be gusting to 40 m.p.h. The areas receiving the heaviest snow and strongest winds will experience near blizzard conditions.
During and after the winter precipitation… very cold air will filter into the state. When combined with the gusty winds, wind chill temperatures may fall to below -10 degrees. There is likely to be an extended period of bitter cold conditions, especially in areas with a deep snowpack.
We are still many hours from the onset of the event, and there are going to be forecast changes along the way.