Winter Weather Discussion 2010-1-1

Winter Weather Discussion for January 27-29, 2010.
Valid: 01/25/2010.

*Significant Winter Weather Event for Oklahoma*
*Preparations for this event should be started now*

Highlights:

– Winter Storm Watch for all of western and central Oklahoma late
Wednesday through early Friday.

– A winter storm watch for eastern Oklahoma is likely by early Tuesday.

– Widespread snow, sleet, and freezing rain is likely across the state
during this time period. This is a potentially dangerous situation
with the likelihood of life threatening accumulations of ice across
parts of Oklahoma.

– Temperatures will likely be quite cold by Thursday afternoon and
remain that way through Saturday. Additionally, winds will be very
strong during this time period with wind chill values quite low.

– Impacts to infrastructure are likely and this may be a high-end
event with widespread travel problems and power outages. At the very
least, sporadic power outages are likely.

Discussion:

12z NAM/GFS are consistent with prior runs and the 00z ECMWF. There
has been a slight slowing of the southwest U.S. system expected for
late Wednesday while the Canadian cold front timing is now earlier.
As such, cold air should be in-place shortly after precipitation
begins late Wednesday into early Thursday. The issue, as is almost
always the case, is at what point will any given location in Oklahoma
transition from one precipitation type to the other. At first guess
it looks like northern Oklahoma will have a brief shot of freezing
rain, then transition to sleet and eventually snow during the day
Thursday. Central Oklahoma will likely stay in the freezing rain
longer with accumulations between 0.3 and 0.5 inches. A transition to
sleet will occur Thursday afternoon and then on too snow late Thursday
with 4-6 inches possible. Southern Oklahoma is currently expected to
remain in the freezing rain threat the longest and there is high
confidence of a significant ice storm for this area. Model QPF values
are 1.0 to 2.0 inches for part of the state, including southern
Oklahoma. How much is actually freezing rain v. rain will be tough to
gauge this far out. However, the potential is certainly present for a
nasty ice storm.

It is emphasized that this is a potentially dangerous situation for
much of Oklahoma. Widespread travel problems and at least sporadic
power outages appear likely for the state by late Thursday.

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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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