Winter’s Not Done With Oklahoma Yet
Our spring fling is giving way to multiple late-season cold spells. They will involve major temperature tumbles along with the risk of ice and snow. Old Man winter has largely spared us this season, but now we are making up for lost time. Here’s how we expect the next two weeks to go down.
As of Tuesday evening, a sharp cold front is edging into Green Country, bringing shallow, but very cold air behind it. Drizzle and showers will quickly develop as that air mass meets up with a moistening atmosphere. As temperatures drop below freezing north of Tulsa tonight, light icing may readily occur on untreated and elevated surfaces. The cold air will be fully in place by Wednesday morning and continue to get colder throughout the day from I-40 to the north. By noon, temperatures may drop to freezing around Tulsa, starting the risk of slick spots on roadways. All of the precipitation will be light, but it only takes a few hundredths of an inch of icing to create very slippery surfaces. Below is how travel may shape up later Wednesday into Thursday.
Thursday into Friday, we get a reprieve of the nasty, raw weather. While the wind chill may dip into the lower teens early Thursday, the precipitation should taper off. Temperatures should rise above freezing by noon Thursday, allowing any hazardous roadways to improve. Friday features a *brief* warm-up before an even stronger cold front arrives. This one could send our temperatures down to near record levels before the weekend is over.
This late-season Arctic blast is due to a surge of warmer air punching toward the North Pole, displacing the Polar Vortex further south over North America. The result? Unseasonably cold air plunging into our region for an extended stay. Saturday’s thermometer will be very short, especially if we are stuck with cloud cover and a strong north wind. As this happens, an active southern branch of the jet stream will shoot several waves of energy over the southern Plains, triggering widespread wintry precipitation to fall as early as Saturday. Most of it appears light at this moment, but as the weekend goes along and the colder air deepens, it should become a snow event.
It’s too early to get into snow totals or even the precise timing. However, it does appear to be fairly light. There is much greater certainty that it will be cold enough for snow, though. Already, the snow pack over the central and northern Plains has resulted in very cold air parked close to Oklahoma. Sending that southward will be a shock to our system and allow anything that falls to stick. That means high temperatures will fall between 30° and 40° below normal for early March as shown below. This could result in the longest sub-freezing stretch of the winter… and it’s falling after climatological winter ends! Wind chills could drop below 0° for a time as well. Clearly, March is coming in like a lion this year.
While temperatures should gradually moderate later next week, we are still stuck in a colder than average pattern likely through the first week in March. Those blooming daffodils won’t be too happy. There could be more wintry weather down the road given the pattern, but our focus for now is Wednesday and early next week. For more weather updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and on my Facebook Page. Stay warm!