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Brief Warm-Up, Then Cold & Wet.

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From a climate perspective, at least here in Oklahoma, winter is considered to be the calendar months of Dec-Feb. From that perspective, winter will be ending this Friday and it will come to a rather balmy end. However, we still have some wintry weather ahead of us over the course of the weekend and into next week. For that matter, you may recall we actually had some snow observed in early May of last year.

It has certainly been wintry day today with a few snowflakes this morning and then a struggle to get above freezing this afternoon despite full sunshine. Notice the high/low temperature map on the right, courtesy of the OK Mesonet, for today. Keep in mind our normal temperature range at this time of year is 57/35 so we are a far cry from that.

At least the winds are dying down and will be light southerly for much of tonight. With clear skies and a cold, dry air mass in place, that means another very cold start to the day Thursday with morning lows in the teens to near 20. At least if your vehicle is parked outside you will not have much if any frost since the air is so dry.

Another boundary will arrive during the day Thursday shifting the winds back to a more NE direction for the more northern counties, then back to SE by the end of the day. Wind speeds should be on the order of 10-15 mph but that will be followed by much stronger southerly winds for Friday. Temperatures Thursday should reach the mid-upper 40s with the more southern counties likely in the 50s along with lots of sunshine area-wide.

Friday could be interesting early in the morning as a system aloft spreads clouds and some light rain this way to start the day. The clouds and a SE surface wind should keep us above freezing but the air is dry enough that evaporative cooling could bring temperatures close to freezing for a short time early in the day. Thus, some very light freezing rain may occur but would only impact elevated surfaces. As the day wears on, the clouds and showers should be quickly lifting out to the NE and strong southerly winds up to 30 mph or more will push daytime highs in the 50s and even the lower 60s. Some parts of the state will even reach into the 70s. As mentioned, a rather balmy end to the month of Feb and the climatic end to winter.

However, that will all be changing over the course of the weekend. Another boundary will arrive during the day Saturday setting up a strong temperature contrast across the state. The more S/SE counties will likely be in the 60s or possibly even the 70s that afternoon. Meanwhile, the more NW counties will likely be in the 40s or even the upper 30s by afternoon. Mostly cloudy skies will also prevail with possibly some drizzle, but anything will be very light.

Sunday is when it gets interesting. Colder air will continue to funnel southward bringing temperatures below freezing by Sunday morning and likely falling further during the afternoon. At the same time a stronger system aloft will be coming at us bringing another round of precipitation. Shallow, cold air at the surface with warmer, moist air above it is a recipe for freezing rain and/or sleet. There are still many uncertainties as the storm system responsible for this wintry mess is right now out over the Pacific Ocean and will not be well sampled by our observational network for a couple of more days. However, all of the longer range guidance is on board now with a very cold, wet day on Sunday. Hopefully, that will change with additional data runs in the coming days.

Some lingering light precipitation will come to an end early Monday followed by decreasing cloud cover late in the day. Bitter cold for this time of year will last through Monday and Tuesday before beginning to moderate by Wednesday. Bottom line is the data set we have to work from right now suggests we will fall below freezing by early Sunday morning and not likely get back above freezing till later Tuesday. That is remarkable for this time of year.

So, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot

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