The winter weather impacts are expected to develop during the next several hours across portions of the state, including nearing Eastern OK by midday to afternoon. A winter storm warning remains for a large portion of the state. Ice storm warnings are in effect for counties across southeastern OK and west Arkansas. Sub-freezing temperatures will exist today and continue through the weekend into next week. We may not move above freezing until Wednesday of next week.
The arctic front is located well south of the region this morning with sub-freezing temperatures across most of the area. The shallow arctic air means a layer of warm and moist air will remain above the shallow dome of cold air. This temperature profile in the atmosphere is conducive for producing freezing rain and sleet across far southeastern and far eastern OK this morning. The profile aloft will support sleet to snow along the I-44 corridor including near the Tulsa metro by midday to afternoon. As the cold air becomes deeper into the atmosphere, the precipitation will transition from sleet to snow. By Thursday night into Friday the atmosphere will support all snow for most of our area of concern.
The actual placement of precipitation is the big issue this morning. The NAM is totally dry for most of the area except far southeastern OK for most of the day. It doesn't bring any moisture into the area until late tonight into Friday morning. While this is always a possibility, we'll discount this solution. Some of the short term RAP and RRR runs bring some light precip into southern OK around 8-9am this morning. This would be rain or freezing rain. These models then bring some light snow along the I-44 corridor between 11am and 1pm today. Other models have been shifting some zones of higher snowfall totals for later tonight into Friday morning across a small area of northern OK southeast of Tulsa into the Grand Lake region. We haven't changed much of our forecast regarding accumulation amounts compared to yesterday. You'll find these graphics on my Facebook pages and my twitter feed as the morning progresses. Significant icing is likely across far southeastern OK, northeast TX, and across a small area of west Arkansas. Pushmataha, Choctaw, Leflore, and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma could experience .20 to .60 inches of freezing rain. If these totals verify, power outages would be likely in some of these areas. The icing would also occur near the Fort Smith metro areas and southward across the ArkLaTex region. Another area from the Texoma River Valley into or near the Arbuckles may also experience some significant icing. Portions of Pittsburg County may also have some freezing rain issues leading to problems.
The actual sleet-snowfall accumulation forecast for the Tulsa metro remains from 2 to 3 inches on the low side to as high as 6 inches. This would be for the entire winter event including Thursday, Friday and a small wave for Saturday night into Sunday morning. Again, we don't anticipate too many issues this morning near the Tulsa metro but later today the mixed precip should be developing over or moving near the area.
The winter storm warning will remain for the Tulsa metro from this morning through Friday evening. Another small wave is expected Saturday evening into Sunday midday with only light wintry precip impacts across eastern OK.
The temperatures will be frigid for a long duration possibly staying below freezing until Wednesday midday of next week. Readings are expected to remain in the 20s for today and Friday but morning lows Saturday should drop into the single digits. Afternoon highs this weekend will remain in the mid-20s. There's a chance the sky may clear out Monday and allow temps to drop back into the single digits for Tuesday morning. A prolonged period of sub-freezing temps can have big impacts on pipes, pets, and water supplies for cattle. Cranking amps in batteries along with tire air pressure can be affected by a long period of very cold air. And of course, the elderly and very young are usually more at risk for prolonged exposure to the cold. Check on friends and family. Protect exposed pipes.
This is not the mother of all winter storms! But it's the first real brush of wintry precip for the season and the air-mass is more typical of an early January arctic outbreak. We'll continue to make adjustments to the precipitation forecast and placement during the day as new model data and observational data becomes available.
You'll find school closings at the top of the web page. You'll also find specific winter weather warnings and advisories listed at the top of the main weather page. We have numerous I-Phone and Android apps available to download on your mobile device to help keep you informed. You'll find them in the I-store and Google Play.
You'll find me on Facebook and Twitter.
I'll be discussing the forecast on numerous Radio Oklahoma news Network affiliates across the state through the noon hour.
Thank you for reading the Thursday Morning Weather discussion and blog.
Have a safe day!