Rick Smith with the National Weather Service, Norman Forecast Office said the recent winter storm featured a fairly typical set-up for snow across Oklahoma, with a strong upper-level storm system moving out of New Mexico and across the southern Plains.
A strong cold front pushed through the state on Sunday night, and the rain that had been falling across western Oklahoma quickly changed to snow.
“With almost every winter storm we see in Oklahoma, the heaviest snow occurs in bands,” Smith said. “And that was the case with this storm. We knew that all the meteorological signals pointed toward the heaviest bands being over the northwestern half of the state, and that's right where we ended up seeing the heaviest snow and blizzard conditions.”
Smith said as meteorologists watched the storm evolve Sunday night and especially during the day Monday, they knew the southern edge of the precipitation area was where there was a lot of uncertainty as far as snowfall amounts.
He said they were confident northwest Oklahoma was going to get buried in a lot of snow, but far less confident about the Interstate 44 corridor and the Oklahoma City metro area, “and we tried to convey that in our forecasts.”
The line that divided rain to the east and snow to the west moved steadily toward Interstate 35 all morning, but stalled just west of the metro area around midday.
Smith said that kept temperatures above freezing through the afternoon and all the precipitation liquid. By the time temperatures were cold enough for snow across much of central Oklahoma, the storm system was moving away and pulling in more dry air.
“Unfortunately, this is going to happen when very fine scale changes in temperature and humidity make the difference between a cold rain and heavy wet snow,” he said. “While some people in the metro would have liked to see more snow, the real story with this system is the much-needed moisture we saw. The OKC metro didn't see very much snow at all, but almost everyone got over an inch of rain.”
With almost every winter storm we see in Oklahoma, the heaviest snow occurs in bands. And that was the case with this storm.”
National Weather Service