Compared to my update posted around 10 PM last night not much has changed in the forecast. The primary update is that the cold front is moving a bit faster than we expected, but as of right now, that does not look to change any of the precipitation types. We’re still 24-36 hours out of this potential winter weather event (espucially closer to I-35) so forecast adjustements are probable. The main problem is going to be when surface temperatures fall below freezing with freezing rain and sleet. In addition, temperatures will remain at or below freezing for multiple days across the Winter Storm Watch area. Impacts are likely to be compariable to the February 2011 Ice Storm (Super Bowl Week in Arlington). Travel will become difficult to dangerous and some power outages are possible. Significant ice accumulations could cause tree and power line damage in some areas. Sleet will also be probable. Across the Texas Panhandle and South Plains, snow will be the primary precipitation type with accumulations of 1 to 3 inches possible, although locally higher amounts may occur. Jenny will have more on our current thinking in her Daily Weather Roundup a bit later this morning.
Something I want to emphasis is this upcoming system is going to be very different from the system that busted back in November across North Texas (but brought a foot of snow to eastern Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma.) Unlike the last system that featured temperatures just above freezing with plenty of moisture, this event will feature temperatures that quickly fall below freezing. The air-mass coming south is one of the coldest the United States has seen in at least 3 years. It’s only going to get worse early next week as a reinforcing shot of pure arctic air moves south, but we’re going to focus on the Thursday-Friday storm for now. Impacts will continue into the weekend as temperatures remain below freezing (and in some cases, drop into record cold territory).
A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the South Plains, Northwest Texas, parts of West-Central Texas, and parts of North Texas. Plainview, Levelland, Lubbock, Brownfield, Childress, Paducah, Sweetwater, Abilene, Vernon, Wichita Falls, Graham, Gainesville, Sherman, Paris, Greenville, McKinney, Denton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Cleburne, and Stephenville are a few towns under the Winter Storm Watch. The watch has been issued in areas where there is moderate confidence in significant accumulations of freezing rain, sleet, or snow. Travel will likely become very difficult and remain treacherous into the weekend.
There will likely be additional watches/advisories issued on Wednesday east and south of the current Winter Watch zone. A small change in the storm track could cause major forecast adjustments. Please check back for additional updates on Wednesday as we get closer to the upcoming winter weather event.