Winter Weather Discussion 2010-1-2

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

*Significant Winter Storm to Impact Oklahoma*
*Prepare now for this winter storm*

Highlights:

– Winter Storm Watch for the Oklahoma panhandle late Wednesday through
late Thursday. Heavy snow of 8 to 12 inches is likely in the watch
area.

– Winter Storm Watch for western and central Oklahoma Thursday morning
through late Thursday, which will likely be extended into Friday.
Several different precipitation types are likely across this area with
snow in the northwest, transitioning to sleet/freezing rain central
and then freezing rain south-central. Central Oklahoma will likely
switch over to snow by late Thursday.

– Winter Storm Watch for northeast and east-central Oklahoma Thursday
morning through late Thursday. Sleeting and freezing rain are likely
over east-central and parts of northeast Oklahoma. In far northeast
Oklahoma, snow will be the primary precipitation type.

– Widespread freezing rain and sleet are likely to cause travel
problems, primarily I-44 south and east. Power outages are also
likely by late Thursday into Friday.

– Strong winds behind the upper system will likely continue power
problems for areas impacted by the freezing rain.

– Persons are urge to prepare for the impending winter storm. This is
a particularly dangerous situation with the potential for significant
accumulations of ice and snow.

Discussion:

00z NAM continues prior trends of developing a major winter storm
across the state later this week. As is expected with upper systems
moving onshore from the Pacific, the timing has slowed a little. This
does not reduce the threat, only the expected onset time. As such, my
continued thinking is that a high-end event is possible for the state
later this week. Travel problems are a given due to the amount of
freezing/frozen precipitation across the state. Power problems also
appear likely and could be significant if the I-44 corridor is
impacted by freezing rain, ref December 2007. I'm not convinced this
will be the ultimate outcome but the 00z NAM has 1.7 inches of
freezing rain for OKC. I'm not going with this solution but it is
worth trending it for future model runs. 18z GFS is a notable outlier
delaying the cold air until late Thursday, keeping the bulk of the
precip liquid. As with the NAM, it is more important to trend the
solutions right now and not jump on one given run. With three of the
four NWS offices issuing highlights and my own forecast inclinations
I'm sticking with a major winter storm unless I see reason for the
cold air to not arrive. I really don't see that as likely given that
the mechanism is separate from the incoming southwest U.S. system.
And, that the models don't handle shallow cold air well.

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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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