Happy New Year!
Could get interesting across the state for New Year's Day into the weekend as cold air in place at the surface will be tough to erode and some energy aloft will be moving across the state keeping us cloudy along with chances of precipitation. Precipitation type and amounts are very difficult to determine in this sort of pattern due to the problems inherent in determining the vertical profile of temperature. Notice the first graphic which I also referenced yesterday which provides a good graphical description of how the vertical profile can impact what we experience at the surface.
Here is how we see things at this time, but this is certainly subject to change. The main problem for Thursday is not only the surface temperatures, but also the depth and magnitude of the layer of warmer air aloft. This event should begin with a mixed bag of sleet/freezing rain, then gradually transition over to a very cold rain as surface temperatures are expected to eventually get above the freezing mark by late afternoon. Also, amounts look to be light, generally around a tenth of an inch or less and the winds will be very light so power problems do not appear to be an issue at this time. This event should be ending by the evening or early night time hours and again looks to be primarily confined to locations along and south of I-40. Keep in mind, there could be some icing issues on bridges and overpasses, particularly early in the event.
We should start off Friday cloudy, cold and for the most part dry; but not for long. The main storm system aloft will be heading our way spreading more precipitation across the state by late afternoon, through that night, and well into the day Saturday. By then, current indications suggest that surface temperatures will be above freezing so although there remains the possibility for some sleet, this should be primarily a cold rain for the Friday night into the day Saturday time frame.
The system now looks to be moving through more slowly so we will be on the backside late Saturday into the overnight hours and for early Sunday morning. As the colder air at the surface and aloft then surges back southward, there will be an opportunity for the rain to change over to snow with possibly as much as an inch or so, primarily for the counties along the OK/KS state line. Most of the rest of us should be dry slotted aloft ending the precipitation that night before there can be much of a changeover.
After that, you may find this hard to believe but we expect to see clearing skies during the day Sunday with lots of sunshine that afternoon for the next few days after that. It will still be cold with temperatures likely staying below freezing Sunday and only a slow moderating trend going into the early part of next week.
However, notice the next two maps which suggest the longer range trends are supportive of a more significant moderating trend as we go into the latter part of next week and that following weekend. In other words, there is some hope for a break in the cloudy, cold conditions that will start the new year.
In the meantime, stay tuned and check back for updates.