Gary McManus, Oklahoma Climatological Survey:
The Ticker might be spring breakin’ it, but Mother Nature has different ideas, obviously. And it looks like we’ll be spending at least the next three to four days of the break standing in line preparing for a LEVEL THREE BREAD AND MILK ALERT!
I’m not sure what a level three is, and I made up the alert scheme, so don’t worry about that. But yes, the weather world is becoming agog with news of snow this weekend. Let’s turn to our friends at the Amarillo and Norman NWS offices for pictures.
We’ll let Tulsa get into the act as well, going all verbose on us. Their screaming, not ours. CWA = County Warning Area.
“A BETTER CHANCE FOR WIDESPREAD WINTRY PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE CWA
WILL BE OVER THE WEEKEND AS AN UPPER LOW TRACKS ACROSS THE REGION.
WITH UNSEASONABLY COLD AIR ALREADY IN PLACE… WINTRY PRECIPITATION
SEEMS QUITE LIKELY ACROSS AT LEAST THE NORTHERN PORTION OF THE CWA.”
We deleted a bunch of stuff about uncertainty of the storm track, and how that could change snow totals. That type of wishy-washiness does not help build hysteria for what is looking like MID-TO-LATE MARCH SNOWMAGEDDON 2013, good for a LEVEL FOUR BREAD AND MILK ALERT (I upped the threat level, but I still don’t know what the levels stand for, so I’m not sure if it got worse or better).
For my purposes, however, I’m looking at how it will help our drought, and the obvious answer is … it ain’t gonna hurt! We’ve been talking about how we need the active weather pattern of late-January and February to continue as we head into spring, and darned if Mother Nature didn’t go all contrary on me. It has now been at least 20 days since some parts of western Oklahoma have seen at least a quarter-inch of rain in a single day … 94 if you live in Kenton.
The first 19 days of March has actually become quite dry, with a statewide average of 0.76″ according to the Mesonet. That’s 1.12″ below normal and the 26th driest such period on record. Something of an ominous sign for the early spring, but we’re not panicking just yet. Here are some maps with the nasty corresponding colors.
We have been getting close to showing drought intensification across parts of southern Oklahoma. Our saving grace has been that we have not seen prolonged above normal temperatures aiding and abetting the drought just yet, other than a few days worth.
Chances of precipitation increase starting tomorrow and last through the weekend. The latest 7-day rain forecast from the WPC shows as much as 2.5″
in far northeastern Oklahoma, tapering off to a tenth of an inch or less to the southwest.
Now don’t be too alarmed at the sight of snow in March. It happens. It was but four years ago that we saw 26″ of snow up in northwestern Oklahoma at the end of March with a lovely early-spring blizzard. Coincidentally, that broke the state’s record 24-hour snowfall before being broken again in February 2011 (Spavinaw, 27″). Some of our heaviest snows hit during March, particularly in the Panhandle and northern Oklahoma. It’s a time when we can still get those powerful cold fronts, but also have a bit more heat/moisture to work with prior to the arrival of the cold air. Spring is thinking storms, but the cold air produces snow. The good part about March snowstorms is the troubling stuff doesn’t stay on the ground for very long.