Mike Grogan's Weather Blog: After A Valentine's Treat, Winter Makes A Return

Saturday, February 14th 2015, 8:52 pm
By: News On 6

After one of the warmest Valentine's Day afternoons on record (Tulsa hit 76°), it's hard to believe wintry weather is making a return less than 24 hours later.  Mid-winter has spared us of hardly any wintry weather, but now we are facing a period of ice and snow that will likely impact travel in eastern Oklahoma.

                Colder air is rushing into the state as I write this – that's the first component to this potential wintry mess.  Our air is dry initially and the main energy to bring precipitation is not in place yet, so much of Sunday will be uneventful.  Temperatures won't likely climb above the 30s during the day as cloudy skies take hold.  By late afternoon, areas of light rain and sleet will develop over our region.  Initially, the precipitation will be light and widely scattered.  As we move later after sunset though, the moisture overriding our cold air at the surface will increase and a full-blown wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow can be expected.  Refer to my first map as an idea for where more ice versus sleet versus snow will fall through Sunday evening.  Southeastern Oklahoma could see enough rain freezing on contact to weigh down trees and power lines.  Roads will likely start out as just wet, but bridges and overpasses may quickly ice over.

                Around Tulsa, most of what we see will fall in the form of sleet and snow.  Remember, sleet is essentially a raindrop that freezes before it hits the ground.  That means it will take longer to see a meaningful accumulation (versus a fluffier snowfall), but slick conditions will likely develop on elevated surfaces and untreated roads with temperatures below freezing most of the night.  By around midnight, temperatures at cloud level will fall to near freezing and we'll start to see more snowfall.  By sunrise Monday, most of the snow and sleet will be pushing east into Arkansas leaving behind slick spots on our roads.

                Overall, snow and sleet accumulations will be light.  However, our computer models are trending “wetter,” which may result in slightly higher totals… ranging from an inch or two around Tulsa to three or four inches in isolated spots near the Missouri and Arkansas lines.  South of I-40, we may just have a dusting, but freezing rain may be the bigger issue with up to a quarter-inch of ice.  By Monday afternoon, temperatures should sneak above freezing, allowing road conditions to improve.  A few more light snow showers may affect the area Tuesday with a fast-moving wave of energy.  It appears little if any additional accumulation will occur.

                Here's the bottom line: Sunday will mostly be dry, but a wintry mix will become likely towards dark. Most of the icing will be well south of Tulsa, but sleet and snow may cause roadways to become hazardous by later in the evening.  Plan your travel before dark Sunday if possible.  There's still wiggle room in our snow and ice predictions and there may end up being parts of Green Country (particularly west of Tulsa) that wintry weather misses altogether.  The greater moisture with this storm will be east of Tulsa with the worst icing and heaviest snow one state east into Arkansas.  Still, this is our first winter storm in well over a month and it's a good bet we'll see slick spots, especially on bridges, not long after the precipitation starts.  By Monday morning, the precipitation is moving out, but sub-freezing temperatures mean many roads may still have a layer of ice or snow on them.

                We'll be sure to keep you informed on the latest changes with this wintry weather.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter and on my Facebook page for those updates!  Stay warm and happy Valentine's Day!