Weather Blog: Winter Weather Update (Friday Evening February 12)

Weather Blog

Here's an update on what we could see from this winter storm.

Winter Storm Watch for Most of Western Arkansas Till Monday Evening.
Winter Storm Warning for Almost All of Eastern Oklahoma Till Monday Evening.

Arctic air has settled across the region refusing to let highs budge much above the 20s and everyone has been below freezing. This means that the cold air is in place well before the advancement of our next weather system.

Friday’s High Temperatures.

Current Storm Set Up

A trough of low pressure will swing through the great plains Saturday into Sunday bringing the potential for significant snow accumulations across our area. We know at this point, for once, that the precipitation will all be snow. This is due to the entire atmospheric profile falling below the freezing mark.

How much snow we actually will see in left to be determined. This depends on several factors such as the track of the storm system and where the banding of the heavier snow sets up.

As of now the low looks to start to pivot to the NE once it crosses the Red River Valley. This will position the best lift right over our region. Parts of central and eastern OK will likely see the most snowfall from this, but we will still see a decent amount of accumulating snowfall.

Preliminary Snowfall Totals Map

Most of us will likely see 4-6″, but parts of the higher terrain could see 6-8″. Keep in mind these are only preliminary snow totals for the event. These totals are subject to change as we get some of the higher resolution models in over the next couple of days.

Expected Impacts

Using the Weather Prediction Center’s Winter Storm Severity Index we can see that moderate to major impacts could be felt from this storm. Moderate impacts means that there will likely be disruptions to daily life. Most of our coverage area will see impacts in this range.

Major impacts means that there will likely be major disruptions to daily life. Fort Smith falls into this category due to its sheer size and population.

What sort of impacts are we looking at from this storm?

  • Roads will become slick, coated, and visibility will be greatly limited due to blowing snow. Travel is extremely discouraged during the entire duration of this event.
  • Frigid temperature paired with gusty winds equals wind chills that will feel like 20 degrees below zero! This low of a wind chill becomes dangerous to be outside for an extended amount of time without covering all exposed skin. Frostbite and hypothermia are both going to be a threat for this weekend into the start to next week.
Brutal GFS Wind Chill Values Through the Weekend into Next Week!

Timing of Winter Storm

Currently the timing looks to be Sunday into Monday. The snow looks to start reaching the ground Sunday afternoon. Radar returns may start to show up earlier, but keep in mind that this storm system is going to have to saturate some VERY dry air. This will likely cause the early snowflakes to sublimate (change from solid to gas). We won’t start to see accumulation till the air reaches 100% saturation sometime in the afternoon hours of our Sunday.

Snow will continue to fall with moderate rates at times overnight Sunday into our Monday. Don’t be surprised if you wake up Monday morning to few inches of snow on the ground. We could see a break in the snow around mid morning before a second slug of lift swings through bringing yet another round of moderate to heavy snowfall before the system exits Monday evening.

4km GRAF Model. Valid Sunday Morning Thru Mid Morning on Monday. (Model Does Not Currently Extend Far Enough Out to Cover Full Event)

There is another system on it’s heels that could bring yet more snow, but let’s focus on the first system for now. Find, like, and follow us on Social Media. Stay tuned for updates!

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