It’s only fitting that after last winter (or the lack thereof) across the Panhandle that we begin this upcoming season a bit early. The first winter storm of the season will begin in earnest tomorrow evening, ramp up and peak tomorrow night, and come to an end around lunchtime on Monday. As usual, this winter weather forecast has several inherent difficulties that make this a complicated forecast. My saying is that we usually will see a surprise or two within 24 hours of a winter weather event in Texas. We’re now entering that 24-hour window. Let’s dive into the specifics.

A winter storm watch is in effect for the majority of the Texas Panhandle and northern sections of West Texas. This does include Dumas, Gruver, Stinnett, Perryton, Vega, Amarillo, Pampa, Canyon, Hereford, Dimmitt, Muleshoe, Littlefield, Plainview, and Floydada. This corridor is where confidence is highest as of this afternoon where the heaviest snows will fall. Understand that mother nature doesn’t care about our maps, and considering how finicky winter weather in Texas can be, don’t be surprised if there is some shift either north or south (and perhaps east) in future updates. This winter storm watch is where confidence is highest in significant accumulations of snow – ranging from three inches upwards toward eight inches. Locally higher amounts are possible, especially if we end up seeing thundersnow or enhanced banding of heavier snow. This watch will be upgraded to a winter weather advisory or a winter storm warning early tomorrow morning. Hazardous travel is likely across a majority of the Texas Panhandle and portions of West Texas beginning tomorrow evening and lasting through Monday afternoon. This includes all of Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico, Texas, and western Oklahoma.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for all of the Oklahoma Panhandle and the easternmost column of counties in the Texas Panhandle. This includes Boise City, Guymon, Canadian, Wheeler, Shamrock, and Wellington. Two to four inches of snow are expected with locally higher amounts. Like those farther to the west, travel is expected to become difficult tomorrow night into Monday. Gusty north winds will make for low wind chills.

Tomorrow night’s weather setup favors light to moderate snow with small bands of much heavier snow. In fact, some of those heavier bands of snow may actually produce lightning. Snowfall rates over one inch per hour could occur in those heaviest bands – which would accumulate on all surfaces, including roadways. The best time for this heaviest snow will be late tomorrow night through the morning hours on Monday. Snow should be exiting the Panhandle to the east by early afternoon Monday. Rain occurring farther south and east from the Permian Basin eastward into North Texas may mix or briefly change over to light snow as we progress through Monday. At this time warm ground temperatures and the lighter nature of the snow are expected to preclude more than a dusting on elevated objects. However, this dynamic storm system could throw a few surprises our way. Please stay tuned for forecast updates tomorrow into tomorrow night.