Wintry Blast Heading into 2019
Heading into the new year, our temperatures are taking a tumble. This Arctic blast will set the stage for a very interesting start to 2019 across Green Country as another storm system draws near. Before we talk about our potential winter storm, lets briefly re-visit our eventful 2018 in Tulsa area weather.
Above are some of the highlights and extremes of the past year. Most notably, we had a second coldest month and warmest month back-to-back. While we were only 0.5° above normal for the year, this was the 4th warmer-than-normal year in a row. It was a drier than normal year based on rainfall at Tulsa International Airport, but other parts of Green Country finished the year with a big surplus (mainly southeast of the metro area). We had a paltry 1.7” of snow in the calendar year and 24 tornado reports for the state – that number has yet to be finalized.
2019 will begin with Arctic air and the potential for wintry weather shortly thereafter. Perhaps we’ll make up some ground on our snow drought. The first issue will be a wind chill dipping into the teens and single digits overnight and into your New Year’s morning. While we may not make it below 20° on the thermometer, most of the day will feel a lot colder as shown above.
By Wednesday, moisture will start to surge back into the area. As it interacts with a shallow sub-freezing air mass, we might end up with a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain in some areas. The highest chance for ice on Wednesday is likely in southeast Oklahoma. After that first wave exits, the second, main upper-level system will move over the state. So much of our weather on Thursday and early Friday depends on its exact track. A shift north or south by as little as 50 miles could be the difference between a cold rain or a full-on snowstorm. It’s likely somewhere in the state will end up with over half a foot of snow by Friday morning. Some of our computer models are spitting out MUCH higher totals than that. Given uncertainty in fine-tuned details that make all the difference in winter weather forecasting, we are not throwing out forecast snow totals just yet. However, Thursday afternoon into early Friday appears to be Green Country’s best shot at turning white. Above is one computer model solution of our winter storm and below is our timeline for this weather as of Monday night.
It’s also too early to be confident in the winter storm impacts, especially since temperatures will be flirting with freezing most of the time. However, this a strong enough storm with enough cold air that we’ve got a moderate chance of slick roads and power outages for parts of the area as shown below.
Those impacts are likely to be short-lived, thankfully. Once this system exits, a much milder pattern returns to our region thanks to a big ridge building in the jet stream. Depending on how much (if any) snow we receive, our temperatures could soar to near 60° by the weekend.