Snowfall amounts from recent storm becoming clear…

Will Rogers Airport received 12.1 inches of snow… which was on the southwest end of some very dramatic amounts.  Many areas in northeast Oklahoma saw amounts of over 20 inches.

Hank Baker lives just southwest of the OKC airport and probably fell in one of those 12 inch bands.  He sent me a picture of his pick-up truck which was in his backyard.  I hope he doesn’t plan on using it anytime soon….

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The Rescue…

With the blizzard of 2011 behind us, the main goal has been digging out and staying warm.  Digging out was a priority with jobs on the horizon for both of us.  We started hitting it with a shovel during the late morning and had a small precarious path which I was able to negotiate onto the road and through the neighborhood.  I didn’t think it was enough because it was tight and still pretty slick.  Around the corner, I ran into Craig Hubbard who was clearing some driveways with his John Deere.  I hit him up and before we knew it, he was clearing us a nice wide path at the house.  Gosh I love living in a small town!  All for the price of a beer the next time I see him.  From there it was off to Kingfisher where we picked up pizza and a new modem.  Our internet is now running back at full speed.

Last night was the coldest night in 15 years as the temperature dropped to zero at 7:42 a.m. this morning.  The house was quite cold last night and required a lot of extra cover and a well positioned space heater for some extra warmth.  Needless to say the low of zero degrees broke the old record of seven degrees set in 1996.

Nothing froze up as we have kept faucets dripping and cabinet doors open.  I got up last night to start the car around 4 a.m. and let it run a bit as the battery has been a little dodgy lately.

Another cold night is on tap.  If skies remain clear and winds start to fall off… we will likely break our record of one degree.  Time will tell if we make a run at the all time cold temperature of minus 2.

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Blizzard coming to an end… bracing for bitter cold temperatures…

None of these vehicles were running... what appears as steam is blowing snow wrapping around the front of the house.

None of these vehicles were running... what appears as steam is blowing snow wrapping around the front of the house.

The blizzard of February 1, 2011 has come to an end in Okarche.  This was a very tough event to measure due to the wind, but our total will be 7.1 inches of snowfall and a meltdown of 0.54 inches.  The 7.1 snowfall breaks the old record of 3.5 inches set on this date in 1996.  In addition, this sets a record for the most snowfall on any day in the month of February.  The previous record was 6.0 inches set on February 15, 1993.  This was the 4th most snow on any day and the 5th greatest snowfall storm total.

During the peak of the storm, winds reached 45 m.p.h. and the wind chill dropped to minus 23 degrees.  The cold weather also set records.  15 degrees was the high temperature today which set a record for the lowest high temperature on the date.  The previous record was 19 degrees set in 1996.  In addition… 4 degrees was the low temperature this morning which broke the old record of 12 degrees set in 1996.

Many snow drifts reached three feet and some were almost five feet high.  Pictures will follow when they can, but we are currently without internet service and have been since the height of the storm.

Temperatures are expected to continue to set records during the next couple of nights when lows will likely drop to below zero.

We will now spend the next 48 hours focusing on keeping things from freezing as well as clearing walks and the driveway.

Other pictures can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/okweatherwatch/020111

Winter storm underway… precipitation changing to snow in Okarche…

Widespread precipitation has broken out during the last few hours across the state.  While most of it was initially in the form of sleet / some with thunder / we are now starting to see a change-over to snow – especially west of Oklahoma City.

Using a test polarimetric radar from Norman, one is able to see areas which have changed over to mostly snow.  The visibility here in Okarche is now being reduced by snow and blowing snow as winds gust to over 35 m.p.h.

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Major winter storm evolving…

What do Lordsburg, New Mexico and Rockport, Massachusetts have in common?  Probably not much.  But according to Google Maps – it would take one day and 18 hours to drive between them.  That would cover the 2,593 miles.

Today’s example however, would have you driving through a Winter Storm Warning or Blizzard Warning for the entire stretch of the way.  Something this Okarche boy hasn’t seen before.

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Major winter storm to soon affect the state…

Final update before onset of winter storm includes increase in snowfall totals.  Other change is to include south central Oklahoma in area of significant weather events.

Most model data is in agreement that a strong upper system will produce widespread precipitation across the state while temperatures are low enough to support snow.  There may be some freezing rain and sleet in portions of south central and east central Oklahoma, but most of the state will experience snow.

The heaviest snowfall will begin in south central Oklahoma between Midnight and 3 A.M.  From there… it will expand northeastward across the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas before ending during the late afternoon on Tuesday.

Very heavy amounts of snowfall are possible.  Winds will also be quite strong producing blowing and drifting snow which is likely to produce near blizzard conditions during the height of the storm.

Temperatures and winds will cause wind chill readings to drop to dangerous levels.

Hang on!  This should be a good one….

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Almost showtime… blizzard conditions possible…

Forecast 24 hours before the onset of this event remains generally on track.  With this update, have twisted the heavy bands of snow a little more north/south and also increased amounts slightly.  It still appears that there will be a period where freezing rain could be an issue – mainly in southeast Oklahoma.

The increase in snow amounts was based largely on the 00z operational GFS/NAM solutions and the 06Z NAM which do not want to come off extremely high totals.  However, bottom line is that 20 inch snow events just don’t happen in Oklahoma very often and it is hard to forecast one.  Still, it would not be surprising to see a band or two exceed a foot of snow – mainly in northeast Oklahoma.  The latest run of the SREF has pockets of eight inch snow in three hours of time.  Needless to say, if this were to verify, some places would be seeing some incredible amounts of snow.

My forecast is still somewhat aggressive – near or slightly higher than official NWS forecasts – and I expect that the major metro areas will stand a good chance of six to eight inch snowfalls.  Strong winds and bitter cold air will cause near blizzard conditions at times and it would not surprise me to see Blizzard Warnings issued if it is recognized that the worst case scenario is starting to play out.

Travel and power grids may take a serious hit with this system and non-essential activities on Tuesday should be postponed.  Even after the storm, bitter cold air may cause the cancellations of activities on Wednesday.  The coldest air of the season – and possibly some time – is poised to move into the state on the heals of the winter weather.

The best advice is to use Monday to prepare.  Make sure that back-up heating systems are in working order.  Make sure points of freezing water pipes are addressed.  Make sure that animals and people that can’t take care of themselves are being checked on.  Areas that see large amounts of snow and high drifting will be hard to shovel.  Use common sense and don’t overwork yourself clearing snow.  Many people die each year from heart related issues which develop during the clearing of snow.

I just got back here at 2 A.M. from WalMart where I find middle of the night shopping to be nice and quiet.  We have food to last days, ice melt, water, and plenty to keep us occupied.  A couple of quick trips to the package store and gas station and we will be ready.  If this is one for the books, we will be watching it unfold from the comforts of home.

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Concern for very cold air increasing…

Please continue to read below for the latest thoughts on the upcoming winter weather event.  This small post will deal with temperature during and after the event.

A few model runs are starting to suggest that we may be soon seeing some of the coldest weather we have seen in these parts in many, many years.

There are several things which require temperatures to get that cold.  First, you have to have a strong arctic airmass that moves straight down the Rockies.  Not just a glancing blow which ends up in the Ohio Valley.  You have to have light winds and clear skies… and you have to have snow cover to start talking about record temperatures and possibly all time record temperatures.

We may have a chance to make a run at that during the middle of the upcoming week.  Most important – which relies on the upcoming winter storm – we need to lay down some type of snow/ice pack.  This part – as referenced in the previous post – is looking more and more likely.

The bottom line is that temperatures this week may very well drop below zero across a large part of the state.  In fact, minus 10+ seems to now be a possibility in local areas. This too is still several days out and subject to changes, but as it appears now, people should be taking as many precautions as possible to prevent damage caused by prolonged, extreme cold.  The all time record low in Okarche is minus 2 degrees set in 1996.  This looks in jeopardy.

We look at outdoor faucets, pipes, hoses.  Consider periods of running the vehicles which are parked outside…. animals, plants which can’t handle record breaking extremes.  Check on others to make sure things are working for them.  The potential cold wave looks serious…. Drip faucets, open doors to faucets.

If we do see temperatures fall to as low as 5 degrees below zero…. It would be some of the coldest temperatures we have ever seen in our lifetime.

Roller coaster ride on temperatures – Major storm still on the way…

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.

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Major winter storm still appears possible…

I have been out on a limb for several days, and see no reason to come back in now.  In fact, confidence is increasing that a major winter storm will pay a visit to the state beginning late Monday/31st and continuing through most of Tuesday/1st.

This event is still several days away, but close enough that we can start putting down some broad initial guesses where significant events are possible.

Very cold surface air will begin pushing southward through Oklahoma during the afternoon Monday.  A combination of warm air advection just above the surface and strong frontal forcing is likely to result in widespread light precipitation developing during the day.  As temperatures steadily fall below freezing from north to south… this precipitation will change to freezing rain/drizzle and sleet.  Initial amounts on Monday are not likely to be excessive, but could cause issues with travel and possibly power.

Precipitation will increase through the night with freezing rain becoming a problem as we approach Tuesday morning.  Some significant amounts of ice build-up on power lines and trees may start to cause more power issues.  As the cold air deepens, a changeover to sleet is expected and heavy amounts of sleet are likely in a corridor from southwest to northeast Oklahoma.

Eventually, precipitation over the northwest half of the state will changeover to all snow – and is likely to become heavy as a strong upper storm system ejects northeastward over Oklahoma.  Widespread amounts of four to eight inches with local amounts to near a foot appear possible in some areas.  Strong northeast winds will cause a considerable amount of blowing and drifting which will have major impacts on travel where the heavier snow occurs.

We are still over 100 hours away from the onset of this event and many changes in the forecast are expected over the coming days.  Not only will changes be necessary with regard to timing and location, but amounts of ice and snow as well.  In fact, at this time there are about equal chances of this being a non-event as a significant event.  Confidence is increasing however and it will be interesting to watch trends over the next few days.

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Okarche, Oklahoma