Winter Weather Discussion for February 24-26, 2013

Winter Weather Discussion for February 24-26, 2013.
Issued:  02/23/2013.
*Significant and Potentially Life-Threatening Winter Storm to Impact Oklahoma*
*Prepare now for this dangerous storm*
Highlights:
–  Winter Storm Watch is posted for much of west-central through north-central Oklahoma, including the panhandle for Sunday night through early Tuesday.  Widespread snow accumulations of 8-12 inches are likely in the watch area.
–  While the current watch does not include Oklahoma City or Tulsa, this is likely to change.  As such, persons across northern and central Oklahoma should prepare for this dangerous winter storm.
Discussion:
12z ECMWF/GFS are in good agreement re tracking a closed southern stream low from west Texas near the Red River and then ejecting it northeast across northwest Arkansas late Monday.  Models also indicate that surface winds will significantly increase late Sunday with speeds of 25-35mph with higher gusts.  The southern shift in the system (previously I-40), brings the heavier snow southward as the 700mb low tracks in a similar fashion.  This puts the heavy snow band squarely across northern Oklahoma and potentially down to I-40 or even south.  Now, the issue at hand is when surface temperatures and too some extent 925mb temperatures support snow.  Current snow pack over KS and NW OK would seem to yield a quick intrusion of cold air as the surface low spins up in Texas late Sunday.  Additionally, the system will start to impact the region during the diurnal temperature min Monday morning.  12z NAM is out to lunch and is ignored.
All that being said, a round of showers and thunderstorms is likely for areas east of I-35 late Sunday.  About the same time, snow will start in the panhandle and western Oklahoma.  The snow area will progress eastward during the overnight hours into Monday, slowly moving east into eastern Oklahoma by Monday afternoon.  Elevated instability as noted in the GFS BUFKIT data should yield thundersnow for parts of the area and NWS Norman has also discussed the same.  Models may be under-forecasting true QPF numbers given the potential for convective snow.  Snow rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are possible during the peak of the storm, once again per NWS Norman.
There are likely more elements I should discuss but for now, I’m getting this out the door.
Again, a significant winter storm is possible for a large part of Oklahoma starting Sunday night and continuing through early Tuesday morning.  This is a particularly dangerous situation with the potential for blizzard conditions across parts of the state.
Probabilities:
–  None
Chase Status:
– Level 1 – Normal
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