Just as the groundhog predicted, winter is far from over. We've weathered a couple winter storms already this month and several more are lined up to impact the state. It's a weather pattern that sends these storm systems on a conveyer belt to the state, which happens to coincide with freezing temperatures already in place. The disruptions in travel, school, and other activities could even continue into next week!
As a brief review, Sunday's system brought a nice swath of snow (that fell rather heavily) from the I-44 corridor southward to near McAlester. Checotah ended up with over half a foot of snow on the ground with snow drifts several feet high! (See first map) Tuesday's system affected all of Green Country, but managed to spare the region its worst. The snow totals ended up being lower than predicted for much of the area as the elusive dry slot cut of precipitation rather early before much accumulation occurred. Ask our friends to the north in Kansas though, and they'll tell you Tuesday's winter storm was quite a doozy. Some places near Topeka had over 10" of snow!
As I write this, we are in a lull period, between storm systems. Two weaker waves of energy in the upper levels of the atmosphere are targeting Oklahoma. The first will arrive Thursday morning, but a disparity of low-level moisture and the weakening of this system will give parts of the area not much more than a coating of snow. A band or two of light snow may survive its trip from the High Plains and give us a few hours of snowflake flying action. The latest data show the bulk of this snow staying along and south of I-40, but some snow shower activity may reach up to near the OK/KS line. It will be a dry, powdery snow that will hopefully just blow around on the roadways and not contribute to major travel issues, at least in this part of the state.
Another piece of energy arrives Friday. It's nearly the same type of system: weak, lacking substantial moisture, and fast-moving. However, we'll have a more southerly wind that will draw up a limited amount of low-level moisture, which might give the region a better shot at seeing snow. No more than an inch will likely occur here as this wave swiftly passes to the east, but it could leave parts of the area with a fresh layer of snow!
Besides the snow, the harsh wind chill values will be with us through late week. Wind, coming off a fresh-snow pack will not only lower the actual temperature, but add to the chill the stronger it gets. By Thursday morning, we might have some locations clocking a temperature that feels like -10°. (See second map) We'll see gradual warming into the weekend.
We also (finally) get more than a day's reprieve from wintry precipitation this weekend. Temperatures will likely rise above freezing on Saturday before another dry cold front pushes into the region. We'll thaw out a bit, but still will be far from our average high temperature in the lower 50s.
Another significant winter storm might be looming early next week. The impacts of this one is far less certain, simply because it's still over 5 days out. However, the latest computer model runs indicate either a period of mixed wintry precipitation or just snow – possibly a good amount of it! Monday into early Wednesday is the window of opportunity. This system appears to draw in Gulf of Mexico moisture, take a favorable track for snow in Oklahoma, and allow for temperatures to be cold enough for trouble. Any of those variables can change between now and then, and we'll be watching it very closely!
Will this winter onslaught end? Here's a light at the end of the tunnel. First, spring is officially 42 days away. It WILL get warmer! In the nearer-future, the pattern allows us to dry out and warm up from the deep freeze starting midweek next week. Even that is no guarantee, but a shift in the jet stream northward will support a quieter pattern here in Oklahoma it appears. The last map shows the trend 8-14 days out for drier weather with more seasonable temperatures.