Cold weather is coming.
And ice may accompany it, according to the National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office.
“We are very certain that the cold air will arrive Thursday and Thursday night with wind chill values primarily in the teens and 20s Friday and Friday night,” said Kevin Brown, a senior forecaster with the Norman Forecast Office. “With new data coming in, we think that this winter-weather event could be a bigger problem with more areas potentially seeing ice accumulation of 1/10th of an inch, with a few locations getting more.”
Brown said the ice accumulation would be on elevated objects such as trees, power lines, cars, and even some bridges late Thursday through Friday night. He added that with many trees still having leaves on them, icing will be more of a problem, which could result in downed limbs.
“This could result in property damage and sporadic power outages,” Brown said. “Some light accumulations of snow and sleet will be possible as well across west-central and northwest Oklahoma.
In the Oklahoma City metro, Brown said Thursday afternoon through Friday night there could be off-and-on “patches of rain.”
“If we see some of the rain after midnight Thursday night, by daybreak Friday,” Brown said, “we could start seeing some areas of freezing rain affecting central Oklahoma and then primarily during the day Friday and into Friday evening.”
Lara O'Leary, Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman, said “slips and falls are a common injury with every winter event.”
“There will literally be hundreds of patients transported to ER's for slips and falls by the time the weather warms in the spring,” she said.
Residents heading to their cars in the morning, going to grab their mail, walking their dogs or stepping onto the porch prompt many 911 calls, O'Leary said.
O'Leary said EMSA advises residents to slowly feel their way to their destination, wear shoes with traction and dress warmly.
“Should they fall they don't want to suffer hypothermia, as well,” she said. “Every winter, we transport someone who has fallen and was knocked unconscious and was found suffering from a broken bone, a head injury and then frostbite or hypothermia.
“It's very important to let someone know you're going outside so they can check on you, should your return be lengthy. Always carry your cellphone when you go outside.”
As for motorists, Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Betsy Randolph said they always ask motorists to reduce their speeds when driving on wet or slick roadways.
“If they will do that and increase the distance between their car and the car in front of them, they will be a great deal safer while traveling,” Randolph said. “Don't use your cruise control on wet or icy roadways, use caution when driving on elevated structures such as overpasses and bridges. Allow yourself extra time to get to where you are going.”
And, she said, “Always drive sober, wear your safety belt and ensure that all the children and other passengers in your car are properly restrained with either a child safety seat or seat belt.”
And Randolph encourages motorists to take several steps before they get on the road.
“Remember to allow your car to properly warm up,” she said. “Clear any ice or frost from your windshield and all windows.”
She suggests packing a winter safety kit in the car. Randolph said items would include: a change of clothes, bottled water, snacks, blanket, kitty litter or sand, a cellphone with extra batteries or a charger, a flashlight, and an ice scraper.
Cold weather continues
Wind chills are expected to remain low Saturday.
And while the forecast is likely to change, there is a chance Sunday night and into Monday of a little wintry mix, forecasters said. The best opportunity for that is across west-central and central Oklahoma and then areas northward, Marc Austin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, said Wednesday.
“With that system right now, freezing rain looks to be a little bit less likely, it may be more of a rain/snow mix or rain/snow/sleet mix,” he said. “But again, it's going to change a lot probably between now and then.
“It looks like even as we head into the middle of next week, our highs aren't going to break 45 degrees, so it's going to be a cold week.”