Dick Faurot's Weather Blog: Winter Returns

Wednesday, February 25th 2015, 8:18 pm
By: News On 6

The first map shows an estimate of where snow is on the ground as of midnight last night; and the case can certainly be made that there are not many states that do not have at least some snow.

Needless to say, very unusual; and more is on the way as cold air at the surface will be surging back southward and the flow aloft will support a series of systems that will provide chances of precipitation, mostly wintry precipitation, for a large part of the country including OK over the next few days.

The second map shows the max/min temperatures for today, courtesy of the OK Mesonet.

Hope you enjoyed the sunshine that we had for most of the day and the relatively mild temperatures. The more SE counties were colder because of cloud cover and the system that produced more snow down that way this morning. That system has moved on eastward, but much colder air will be surging southward overnight and most of the state will struggle to get above freezing for the next couple of days.

Not only that, but strong northerly winds will bring wind chill values into the single digits or low teens by first thing Thursday morning with temperatures in the low 20s and northerly winds of 20-30 mph with some gusts to near 40 possible.

As the day wears on, we will have some afternoon sunshine, but those gusty northerly winds will keep temperatures for the most part in the 20s to near 30. Also, there may be a few flurries first thing in the morning, but no accumulation.

It will be bitterly cold again on Friday along with cloudy skies and a brisk NE wind, so temperatures in the teens to start the day will only moderate into the 20s by afternoon. Once again, wind chill values will likely be in the single digits to teens for much of the day.

Also, there will be a chance of flurries or a few light snow showers, but nothing measurable on this side of the state - although there could be some accumulating snows for the more western counties.

Saturday is looking even more interesting, but the guidance remains conflicting.

One set of guidance moves accumulating snows quickly northward that morning and keeps it mostly over the more NW counties of the state. Another set of guidance has the accumulating snows right over us for much of the day.

In either event, expect the day to start off with snow gradually changing to a mixed bag late in the day or that night as temperatures slowly moderate and then more of a liquid event by Sunday morning and through the day Sunday.

Notice the third graphic which is one of the solutions we have access to and is valid through noon Saturday. The greys represent snows up to 2”, the light blue 2-4”, the dark blue more than 4”. Obviously, any shift one way or another would move the heavier snows accordingly.

At present, this does not look to be a high impact event for our side of the state with around 1-2” of snow for most of us and perhaps more of a mixed bag for the far southern counties. Locations along the OK/KS state line and further north have better chances of greater snowfall totals.

One of the constraints on Friday into Saturday is the lack of a well-organized system aloft and the presence of very dry air near the surface. In fact, would not be surprised for the area radars to show widespread snow falling across much of the state for Friday and Friday night, but the very dry lower level conditions will evaporate most of it before it reaches the ground. Thus, only flurries are currently anticipated with the exception of far W OK.

As the day wears on Saturday, those lower levels will be saturating, allowing more of the precipitation to reach the surface; but at the same time our winds will become more E and eventually SE for Saturday night and Sunday. That should warm things up just enough to transition back to a cold rain.

The timing of that transition will make a huge difference in how much snow can/will accumulate and is difficult to determine very far in advance. Thus, this remains a low confidence forecast regarding how much snow any one location actually accumulates.

This just illustrates the forecast difficulties in trying to determine when and how much snow will fall over a given location as those low level temperatures will be critical and will be highly dependent on the surface winds.

NE winds Saturday morning will be more E for much of the day and then SE by evening and overnight. SE winds will then persist through Sunday, back to the NE on Monday and eventually back to a more southerly direction Tuesday before back to northerly again Wednesday.

In other words, a series of systems will be moving across the state with shifting winds and keeping us cloudy with chances of precipitation each day going into next week.

However, temperatures are also expected to have moderated enough by then that it should be liquid events going into next week. But, the next several days will be a far different story and additional data runs will help to sort things out and provide more specific guidance in the next day or two.

So, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot