The latest data is rolling in and the prognosis for the weekend is looking worse for portions of Green Country as an ice storm appears likely. This is a scenario in which just a few degrees makes all the difference in the conditions and impact, but those few degrees of change to the colder have made freezing rain a much more likely bet for the Tulsa metro area. An Ice Storm Warning is now in effect through much of Saturday for Tulsa.
Sub-freezing temperatures have already settled into northeast Oklahoma, where the worst of the impacts are expected. Very little warming will occur before rain pushes in from the south. By sunset, we may start to see freezing rain occurring in the area. Initially, road surfaces will be too warm to freeze over. It's those elevated surfaces like bridges, trees, and power lines that may quickly ice over and become weighed down. A steady freezing rain will occur overnight, especially from Tulsa northward to about the OK-KS line.
Think back to 2007 when we received that awful ice storm. This may not be near the same magnitude as that, but the impacts on a lesser scale may occur. Trees and power lines may suffer damage and power outages will become increasingly likely into Saturday morning. Bridges will likely become slick and even some roadways could ice over if the freezing rain prolongs into Saturday.
The big question is how long that freezing line remains in the region. There are some indications that Tulsa stays at or below freezing from now until Sunday, which would lead to the worst case scenario – a half inch of ice or more with widespread damage to trees and numerous power outages. Our forecast still supports enough warming for all but the OK-KS line to thaw out, making this *hopefully* a short-lived event. However, until we rise above freezing, the icing will only get worse into Saturday.
It's a big weekend for travel and holiday plans, and you should consider the weather a top priority in decision-making. Roads may end up just wet around Tulsa, but it only takes one unsuspecting slick bridge to cause a world of problems. I would expect some slick and hazardous roadways from late tonight into Saturday morning with the greater impacts likely on trees and power lines.
The final wave of this system will come through as snow late Saturday night. Only small accumulations are expected, mainly from Tulsa northward, but temperatures will dip into the 20s, making slick roadways again a possibility.
Pay attention closely to the temperatures and remember to think twice about holiday plans should the weather be frightful this weekend! We'll keep you updated on-air and on-line. Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and on Facebook for all the latest on this wintry weekend!