Winter Weather Discussion 2009-7-6

Winter Weather Discussion for December 24, 2009.
Valid: 12/23/2009.

***Significant Snowfall Event for Oklahoma***
***This is a life threatening situation***

Highlights:

– Winter Storm Warning for areas north of a line from Altus to
Muskogee. Snowfall of 3-8 inches is likely on Thursday in the warned
area. Additionally, a period of freezing rain/sleet is likely during
the early morning hours.

– Winter Storm Watch northeast Oklahoma for potential of 6-8 inches of
snow Thursday afternoon and evening.

– Winter Weather Advisory for the panhandle and areas south of a line
from Altus to Muskogee. Snowfall of 1-3 inches is likely and freezing
drizzle/sleet may occur early Thursday morning.

– Bitterly cold temperatures and northwest winds of at least 40mph
will create near blizzard conditions. A short-fuse blizzard warning
is a distinct possibility for parts of the state on Thursday.

Discussion:

No change to forecast reasoning at this point. 18z NAM finally
resolved the RH min problem and QPF fields are acceptable. I have not
gone through BUFKIT data but coordination with Andy and Greg yields
potential for greater than 5 inches in OKC and points east. Cold
front has moved into southeast Oklahoma and Arctic air will filter
into the state tonight. As this occurs the near surface air will cool
to below freezing. The 850mb low will still be pumping warm/moist air
northward creating a temperature profile supportive of freezing rain.
As the 925mb low most east the profile will transition to sleet and
eventually snow. This should occur across much of Oklahoma by
mid-morning on Thursday. There remains potential for isolated icy
spots due to the freezing drizzle/rain/sleet.

As the cold air deepens, the upper system will provide increasing lift
and plentiful moisture at the surface up to 700mb. The dendritic snow
growth region will favor large crystal growth, initially.

Snow should start to decrease in central Oklahoma by late afternoon
Thursday and overnight in far eastern Oklahoma.

Typically I would not use enhanced wording for this type of event, but
given time of year, type of snowfall, strong winds, and expected
travel enhanced wording is required. Stranded travelers are a
distinct possibility Thursday evening in eastern Oklahoma (I-44/I-40)
and state highways.

I'll be quite happy if this forecast busts, at this point I don't
care. Another discussion will be needed tonight, assuming I'm sober
(thanks to someone for the bottle of wine).

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About Putnam Reiter

Putnam has been storm chasing since 1990 and is a co-founder of Hook-Echo.com. For his day job, Putnam works in emergency management for information technology.
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