I’m sorry about the lack of updates on Saturday about the upcoming winter storm. We just all got so busy with other things that it got difficult to sit down and put something out on the blog, although we did get information out on the social media pages. I suppose it doesn’t help that I have the flu!
We’re now within 60 hours of the Christmas Winter Storm and that means we’re almost to the point where our much-anticipated storm system will move onto the West Coast of the united States and finally get sampled by weather balloons. Unfortunately that won’t happen until this evening so we’re still left guessing about many things and that is making for a low confidence forecast. Have I mentioned that this remains a low confidence forecast? This storm system will not be sampled by weather balloons until tonight, so we’re still left guessing about several things.
Let me go ahead and show you a few weather models and let you see the uncertainty for yourself.
Here is a snow output from the North American Model (NAM). It creates a significant blizzard along and north of Interstate 40 in Oklahoma. This solution would likely result in the closure of interstates and a travel ban in Oklahoma. Needless to say, this would be a dangerous winter storm for Oklahoma if this solution were to verify. Winds over 30 MPH with a foot of snow would be enough to create snow drifts over five feet high and likely knock out power to tens of thousands. Notice how it doesn’t produce any snowfall in Texas. This is the northern solution for the storm track. In addition, this is the first model run to show such an extreme snow solution for Oklahoma. That means this model has not been consistent with its output, thus is disregarded for now as an outlier.
Here is another weather model, the Global Forecast System (GFS) which is also an American model. This weather model shows significant snow totals in Oklahoma while the southern edge of light snow makes it down into Texas. If this solution were to verify, travel would be difficult in Oklahoma. Light snow accumulations of one to two inches would be possible along and north of Highway 82 in North Texas with light snow accumulations also possible in Northwest Texas and the Texas Panhandle.
Finally, here is the European Weather Model. During times of winter weather, this weather model has a record of performing the best in the medium to long range. It also has been the most consistent among the weather models during the past few days. That isn’t meant to say this solution is correct, but we do like to give the Euro more confidence then some of the other weather models. If the Euro is correct, the storm system would travel further south and thus pull snow accumulations into Texas. It drops a significant amount of snow in Northeast Texas and Southeast Oklahoma, along with Central Oklahoma.
I showed you all these weather models to demonstrate the uncertainty for our forecast. A simple 50 mile shift in the storm track would have SIGNIFICANT impacts on our forecast. That is why you don’t see us putting any specific snow totals out yet.
My plan is to let the evening weather model data arrive and then become more specific with the snowfall amounts my late this evening or most likely early Monday morning. That said, I have created a graphic that shows the areas I believe could receive light snowfall accumulations. This is a generalized graphic and I can guarantee you it will change by tonight. I put it together in a hurry to help visualize the snow chances.
So in summary, here are the things we’re saying thus far.
- Significant travel impacts are likely in Oklahoma on Christmas and the following days. Plan to adjust travel plans if you’re heading north or coming back south.
- Storm system will not make landfall until tonight in United States. Once it makes landfall, weather balloons will determine its exact strength.
- Forecast confidence remains LOW. Weather models still in disagreement.
- Small changes in storm track could have huge impacts on snow forecast.
In addition to the winter threats, a significant severe weather event looks to be coming together in Southeast Texas and states to our east. We’ll address those issues in a separate blog post later this afternoon. That event could be quite dangerous.
We’ll try to have another update out around 11 PM CST this evening. For continuing coverage, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!