If you like experiencing three of the four seasons in one week, you’ll love the next seven days. We’ve got dramatic temperature swings and a possible winter storm ahead for Oklahoma and you’ll want to stay on top of all of the changes as the week progresses. First we’ll see the major warm-up with highs not far from record levels.  Late in the week, Arctic air seeps into the state as temperatures tumble back to the freezing mark. This may very well set the stage for a potentially prolonged winter storm.

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                The light-hearted part of the week comes first. Temperatures will continue their rise from bitter cold readings over the week. (see above). Bristow dipped to -9° and may see a 70° later this week. It’s weather whiplash and it involves several days of spring-like warmth, particularly Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ll see a series of storm systems racing quickly from east to west, but only resulting in additional cloud cover through midweek and perhaps a few showers in far eastern Oklahoma. We’ll maintain generally south winds until Thursday when the Arctic air plunges back into our area.

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                Much greater uncertainty lies from Thursday beyond. There are many moving parts in a winter storm such as the availability of moisture, the triggering mechanism and the depth of cold air in place. At this time, all three factors appear to be in place for a significant icing event somewhere in our region. However, it is early to delineate exactly what areas see mostly rain versus freezing rain versus sleet and snow. Below is a broad-brushed attempt to do so, but count on this map changing several times before the storm arrives.

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                If computer model trends hold, the main issue with this storm may be the slow-moving nature of it. That could keep the fetch of moisture from the Gulf overriding the shallow sub-freezing air for a long enough span to create major travel issues. Several waves of this activity could spread over Green Country before this system gets a boot east of our area by next Monday. However, temperatures may fluctuate enough in this time to thaw parts of the area out or at least offer a break from the most-dreaded freezing rain (rain that falls and freezes on contact creating a glaze). 

                There is the possibility that the focus for the wintry precipitation stays far enough to our south or west to diminish the wintry weather concerns here. It’s all possible for this storm system to take faster path through the region and limit the impacts as well. Needless to say, this is not a set-in-stone winter storm for us. There are many questions yet to be answered, but we will be refining those answers each day. The best plan of action is to stay informed and have plans in place to deal with wintry weather should it come to fruition. After all, we’re at the heart of winter and we can’t expect to stay as unscathed as we have over the past few years.       

                Beyond the storm, there are signs that the Polar Vortex aloft tightens up in Canada and sequesters the Arctic air to that region allowing us to warm back above normal as the Outlook below suggests. Assuming that’s the trend, we’ll welcome a chance to thaw out from a potential harsh encounter with Old Man Winter.

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