Monday, January 31, 2011

Update on Major Winter Storm

I apologize for not getting an update out earlier today.  My 'real job' simply prevented me from doing so.  Sometimes the juxtaposition of a Monday with a major impending storm just doesn't work out...

In general, the major impact areas outlined in yesterday's post are still right on target.  I did, however, increase the heavier snowfall accumulation amounts further southwest across Oklahoma based on continued computer model guidance and the anticipated track of the system.

With the above in mind, here is how it appears to me that the heavier snow fall totals will play out through Tuesday night:
While the magnitude of the potential snowfall amounts alone is significant, I would encourage residents of the region to not just focus on the snowfall accumulation forecasts.  What will make things even worse are strong North to Northeast winds of 20-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph or higher, which will cause widespread blowing and drifting snow.  Blizzard to near blizzard conditions can be expected throughout much of the region highlighted with 8-12 inch plus snowfall totals.  This will cause widespread drifting of snow, in addition to very dangerous wind chill readings.

Across Oklahoma and Missouri, snow may fall at a rate of 2-3 inches per hour in some cases, accompanied by rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning.

Ice will also be a threat for portions of the region immediately Southeast of the heavy snow band.  The primary threat area for greater than one-quarter of an inch of ice accumulation is outlined below:
Some initial icing (but generally less than one quarter of an inch) may also take place across portions of Oklahoma, southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri prior to the complete changeover to snow, which will further aggravate already hazardous conditions across the region.

The above scenarios are what are most likely to play out as the system develops tonight and Tuesday.  There are, of course, more extreme versions of what could take place.  One computer forecast model, for example, is calling for 20-24" of snow in band generally extending from the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, through Joplin and Springfield to near St. Louis, Missouri.  The axis of heaviest snow from northeast Oklahoma through southwest and into east-central Missouri seems likely to me.  We'll have to wait to see how the hourly snowfall rates start playing out to see if some of the more the extreme accumulations also come to pass.

Finally, below is a snapshot of the current winter weather warnings from the National Weather Service:

The pink shaded region from northwest Texas and the panhandle, Northeast through the Midwest and into New England indicates a Winter Storm Warning.  The brighter orange shaded areas from central Oklahoma through Missouri and parts of Iowa and Illinois are Blizzard Warnings.  Much of these areas are surrounded by Winter Weather Advisories, noted by the blue/grey shaded areas.

Residents in the warned areas should have already completed necessary preparations for this dangerous storm.  Listen to local media and other outlets for later statements, warnings and advisories.

I will make every effort to provide some real-time update posts on Tuesday, but please remember this blog is not meant for real-time information on a consistent basis.  For that, please consult your local media and/or National Weather Service office.  A map of local offices can be found here.

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