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Relief, disappointment over failed winter storm forecast for Oklahoma City

Officials said memories of a 2009 Christmas blizzard likely caused Oklahoma City residents to take last week's winter storm forecast more seriously, but they worry the no-show snow will cause complacency.
BY BRYAN DEAN and LEIGHANNE MANWARREN Published: March 3, 2013

“I've had that discussion with several people,” Barnes said. “I'll agree I am disappointed we didn't get snow. Everyone likes a little snow. But I'm glad we didn't get the blizzard conditions.”

Businesses and college campuses closed early and many events were canceled Monday as people anticipated hazardous road conditions during the evening commute.

Metro schools remained open, though, and thousands of schoolchildren who expected they would get the day off Tuesday were disappointed.

Bethany Middle School students Katey Palmer, 14, and Peyton Malasja, 14, said even teachers and administrators were talking Monday about school likely being closed Tuesday.

“All the teachers had told us ‘well if you have a snow day, we won't have homework' and all that stuff, so I was really excited,” Malasja said. “They told us we were going to have a blizzard and have eight inches, and then we woke up and there was nothing on the ground. I felt really lied to.”

Palmer said she was planning on spending her snow day at a friend's house.

“I went to bed late just to be ready for the snow day in the morning, and there wasn't a snow day,” Palmer said.

Predicting weather

National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Barnes said a line of freezing air stopped just short of where it was expected. Those west of the line got snow. Areas east of the line got rain.

“The line that separated the snow and the rain lingered just west of the metro pretty much the entire day,” Barnes said. “If that line would have shifted 30 miles to the east, northwest Oklahoma County could have gotten 3 to 6 inches of snow.

“That type of thing is very difficult to forecast.”

Meteorologists and emergency managers now have to worry a false alarm this time will cause people not to take the next warning seriously.

Barnes said that is a line forecasters always struggle with. They try to be as accurate as possible to give people the information they need to stay safe, while not causing undue panic, he said.

“Apathy is the biggest enemy we have as far as preparedness goes in emergency management,” Oklahoma County's David Barnes said.

“I think people are paying better attention, and that's a really good thing.”

Everyone likes a little snow. But I'm glad we didn't get the blizzard conditions.”

David Barnes,
Oklahoma County emergency management director

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