Arctic Cold Front Pushes Across Oklahoma

Wednesday, November 29th 2006, 8:54 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A blast of Arctic air pushed into central Oklahoma early Wednesday, dropping temperatures quickly from the 60s into the low 30s and dusting portions of the state with a mix of wintry precipitation.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory that will remain in effect through Thursday as the powerful storm pushed through the state. The cold front was expected to move into southeast Oklahoma by sunset Wednesday.

A more significant winter storm warning was to be in effect from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday for most of the state.

"This is definitely the coldest air mass of the season," said Ty Judd, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman. "We've been spoiled a bit with all these warm temperatures lately, but we're looking at below-normal temperatures at least into next week."

Temperatures were expected to dip into the 20s overnight and remain in the 20s through the day on Thursday.

Developing showers and thunderstorms behind the front should result in a mix of frozen precipitation late Wednesday and early Thursday, especially in northwest Oklahoma, Judd said.

"The chance is definitely there for freezing rain and snow," he said. "There is a very good chance that we will have accumulating snow here in central Oklahoma."

The forecast called for between 8 and 12 inches of snow in north-central and northeast Oklahoma Thursday, with between 4 and 8 inches expected in central parts of the state, including the Oklahoma City metro area, the NWS reported.

Winds out of the north at 15 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph, were expected to drop wind-chills into the teens and single digits late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Forecasters predicted some ice accumulation late Wednesday, ranging from a light glaze west of Interstate 35 to possibly more than one-quarter inch across southeast Oklahoma, with precipitation gradually turning to snow on Thursday.

About 37,000 tons of a salt-sand mixture stored at more than 100 sheds across the state was ready to be applied to the state's highways, said Terry Angier, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

"We've got as many as 1,200 employees and 500 trucks for this type of work statewide," Angier said. "Obviously, we are prepared for this kind of thing."

Angier urged motorists to be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, which ice over quickly, and to slow down and allow plenty of time for travel when road conditions worsen.

Mike Degiacomo, superintendent of street maintenance for Oklahoma City, said he had 24 trucks outfitted with salt spreaders and extra crews that were prepared to hit the streets when bad weather arrived.

"I don't anticipate a lot of freezing conditions, simply because of the ground temperature," Degiacomo said. "But obviously, that can change."