Terry Hood, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Many Oklahomans will be hitting the road for the Christmas holiday, and they may find a few pleasant surprises along the way.
A different weather pattern has taken hold in Oklahoma and its making this year much easier to navigate.
Do you remember the weather last year? For many Oklahomans, the blizzard of '09 is like the ghost of Christmas past.
"It wasn't fun, but you try to do the best you can," said Tulsa motorist Ken Johnson.
"I fell when we were coming out of our Christmas party... I fell getting into the car," said Tulsa motorist Jennifer Willard. "But we actually got to go sledding last year on Christmas day, which was lots of fun,"
Only six inches of snow fell, but the wind and the cold temperatures made it a storm for the record books.
"There have only been two or three other occasions in the history of forecasting here in Oklahoma that they've issued a blizzard warning," said News On 6 Meteorologist Dick Faurot.
That Christmas blizzard was the start of a long, cold winter. It was one of the snowiest in Oklahoma in more than 100 years of record keeping. But meteorologist Dick Faurot says this year, the weather pattern has changed dramatically.
"Last year was what we refer to as El Nino, which is a very wet pattern. This year is la Nina, which is typically much drier and so far, that's turned out to be the case" Dick said.
And that's turning out to be a potential Christmas bonus for motorists across the city.
The widening project on Highway 169 is a good example. The wet spring set road crews behind schedule.
But in the last couple of months, they've gained ground, and now there's a good chance the orange barrels will be off this highway by Christmas day.
What's more, this weather pattern could be with us for months to come.
"This is turning out to be a strong La Nina event, and typically these repeat themselves from one year to the next, so we may well see the same pattern next year." He said.
And for travelers, if not for sledders, that's a bit of Christmas cheer.