Oklahomans prepared Tuesday as an approaching cold front is expected to bring freezing rain, snow and bitterly cold temperatures later in the week.
The front is expected to move into the area Wednesday morning. Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s early Wednesday, dropping to the 20s later in the night.
That is as warm as it will get the rest of the week, National Weather Service forecasters said. Highs Thursday and Friday are not expected to reach 30 degrees. Friday night's low is expected to dip to 10 degrees.
Freezing rain and sleet are expected to arrive Thursday morning. More sleet and snow are possible Thursday night, with snow likely Friday morning.
Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman, said in a NewsOK chat Tuesday that this storm will likely be more widespread than the one that hit the state a couple of weeks ago.
“It will be bad enough to cause some travel problems starting late Thursday night and continuing through Friday,” Smith said. “It will be colder with this storm. We are concerned that areas south and southeast of Oklahoma City could get enough ice to cause tree damage and power outages.”
The Oklahoma City area is expected to get between one and three inches of snow on top of a layer of freezing rain and sleet. More snow is possible in the northeast part of Oklahoma, with the southern half of the state likely to get smaller amounts, mostly in the form of freezing rain.
Smith said the dividing line between snow and sleet should be around Norman, with areas north of the line seeing more snow.
The threat of power outages prompted the American Red Cross to issue an alert Tuesday.
Volunteers have put possible shelter locations on alert across the state, and leaders are urging people to prepare ahead of the storm.
Janienne Bella, the Red Cross chief executive for the central and western Oklahoma region, said people should prepare an emergency kit that includes warm coats, hats, mittens or gloves, water-resistant boots, extra blankets and warm clothes.
A first-aid kit, essential medications, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries are also important, Bella said.
Oklahoma City road crews will begin pre-treating bridges and overpasses Wednesday, said city spokeswoman Kristy Yager.
“We will have a full crew coming in Wednesday night,” she said. “We will probably have about 30 trucks running the city snow routes.”
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will be using two new plows that can clear two lanes at once, spokesman Jack Damrill said. The plows look like normal plows but they tow a second plowing platform to the side, allowing them to cover more of the roadway.
A spokeswoman for the Emergency Medical Services Authority said people should make sure they have prescriptions filled, check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and stockpile three to five days' worth of food and water.