With snow storms approaching, Craig Wetz, of Oklahoma City, was not only looking out for himself, but for his husky, Jaco.
Wetz piled water, soda pop and a 40-pound bag of dog food into his van outside the Walmart Neighborhood Market at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Britton Road in The Village.
A musician, Wetz wondered if he would be able to make a Saturday night gig in Shawnee: “The snow's no problem. It's the ice that gets you in trouble.”
He was among those who crowded markets and hardware stores Wednesday in anticipation of storms expected to hit the state beginning Thursday.
People were loading carts with essentials like milk, water and toilet paper and hardware items to help with snow and ice.
Prep football playoffs were postponed for a week statewide. In Stillwater, Oklahoma State University officials, fearing for the safety of students, broke up a “pregame campout” of people trying to be first in line for good seats at Saturday's football game against the University of Oklahoma.
The first wave of wintry weather will start after sunrise Thursday and continue through midday, said Ryan Barnes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman.
Ice was possible on bridges and overpasses in the Oklahoma City metro area, but the highest chances of freezing rain will be in southeastern Oklahoma.
Conditions were expected to deteriorate with the most significant impacts expected from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday.
There is a 30 to 40 percent chance of some additional snowfall Saturday. That would be in the afternoon and evening hours, even through Sunday morning, Barnes said.
Toni Hunter, of The Village, was getting ready Wednesday for some icy driving conditions.
“My truck slides around if there's no weight in the back,” she said after leaving a hardware store with four 60-pound bags of sand to put in the back of her pickup.
Mike Bogel, manager of Westlake Ace Hardware, said heaters, weather stripping and ice melt for sidewalks were going fast.
OKC metro area
Scott Curl, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Norman, said the first wave of precipitation Thursday may bring light snow to the northwest and significant freezing rain farther south and southeast.
He said that in the Oklahoma City metro, there could be patches of ice. After a brief lull, a second round of wintry weather is expected to begin late Thursday night.
Curl said forecasters expect that to begin in the southwest and spread northeast. Heavier precipitation amounts are expected with that wave.
The precipitation should decrease from west to east Friday morning, with some accumulations possibly in the early daylight hours, he said.
Curl thinks the higher accumulations of ice will range from Wichita Falls, Texas, toward the Arbuckle Mountains and then in the Ardmore, Sulphur, Ada and Atoka areas, with possibly ¼ to ¾ of an inch of ice, mainly Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.
In terms of snowfall, “it could come down pretty heavy between overnight Thursday, say around midnight, to 9 or 10 Friday morning in that corridor from Lawton to Oklahoma City up toward Tulsa. We may see 3 to 6 inches of snow in that corridor.”
“As for Saturday, we could see some spotty areas pick up light accumulations of snow late Saturday into the first part of the day Sunday,” Curl said.
Amy Jankowski, a meteorologist with the weather service's Tulsa Forecast Office, said most of eastern Oklahoma is under a winter storm warning from 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday. However, some southeastern counties are under an ice storm warning from noon Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday.
Up to 5 to 7 inches of sleet and snow were possible in a band from near Okemah, up to near the Fayetteville, Ark., area.
South of that band, is where the heavier ice accumulation is likely to occur. Near Hugo in Choctaw County and in the southern parts of Le Flore County, the forecast called for up to an inch of ice.
Jose Garcia, meteorologist in charge with the National Weather Service, Amarillo, Texas, said snow was expected to begin overnight Wednesday night in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The cold temperatures may be more of a concern, with lows expected in the single digits and wind chills of possibly 0 to minus 10 degrees.
“We think this is going to be some of the coldest air, certainly, of the year and we have not seen temperatures this cold since probably February 2011,” Garcia said Wednesday.
“In addition, I think the difference for this system is going to be the length of the cold air. After we drop below freezing tonight, we're not expecting to get above freezing again until maybe sometime on Tuesday.”
The Oklahoma Panhandle is in a winter weather advisory until 9 a.m. Friday.
Far southeast Oklahoma
Mario Valverde, meteorologist in charge with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, La., said the worst-case scenario for McCurtain County would be “maybe an inch of ice through this weekend.”
He said the freezing rain may start Thursday afternoon or evening. There may be a break in the precipitation late Friday. However, that break is an uncertainty.
That county is in an ice storm warning from 6 p.m. Thursday through 6 p.m. Friday.
“The hills, because this is going to be a shallow, cold event, they may actually slow down the cold air getting into McCurtain County,” Valverde said. “So places in Arkansas and in Texas, may actually get the freezing rain before McCurtain County does because that air kind of travels around until it builds up and comes over those hills.
“The hills dam the air up until it gets deep enough to come over the tops of those hills. That may give them a couple more hours of rain without the freezing going on, but it will get there.”