Cold Week Ahead May Turn Wintry
From tornadoes to a possible winter storm, Oklahoma weather is always keeping us on our toes. It’s the time of the year where a powerful jet stream can bring us both spring-like storms or a harsh snowstorm. We are in transition to a colder pattern that might lend itself to a visit by Old Man Winter by the end of the week. It could be a significant wintry weather event, but we are still several days away from nailing down some important details.
Here's what we do know: Colder air is becoming entrenched across the Midwest, spilling into Oklahoma for much of the week ahead. Monday will be awfully chilly as a passing wave in the jet stream reinforces the colder air at the surface. Temperatures will warm a bit into midweek as clouds temporarily vacate the area. However, the cold air doesn’t go far before a strong and deep storm system shifts into the Southern Plains by Friday. That’s where the trouble likely begins.
Above is the general set-up for our potential winter storm. Our computer models have not strayed far from the idea of significant moisture lifting north from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of the Low and meeting up with cold air that quickly returns to Oklahoma. Exactly how deep that cold air is will determine what type of precipitation falls. Exactly what temperature is found at ground level will determine the impacts we experience. Those are the details that will likely fluctuate between now and Friday and are crucial to knowing how we make it through this wintry spell. To complicate matters further, we’ll likely see a whole range of conditions across Green Country that will adjust with time. Needless to say, it’s a challenging forecast, but one that should gradually become a bit clearer with time.
Since we are still a number of days out from this storm system, I would not change any plans yet. If its path shifts north, we could end up with a mostly rain event. If it shifts further south, we may see far less precipitation. It’s not locked in. But just know the potential is there for all types of wintry weather from ice to snow. Meteorological winter began Saturday, and it is not taking long this season for wintry weather to show up. It just has been awhile since Green Country has faced a significant winter storm. In fact, the map below shows it has been well over 1,000 days since the National Weather Service office in Tulsa has even issued a Winter Storm Warning! Clearly, we are overdue compared to most other locations.
For those who dread the mention of ice, snow or even cold, here’s some good news: the cold spell this week and potential wintry weather will not likely stick around for long. The jet stream pattern will allow temperatures to warm for our region in the following week, placing Oklahoma in the “Warmer than normal” category mid-month.