Woodward, Okla. —
Winter is on its way as a heavy cold front is expected to move in to Northwest Oklahoma this weekend and disrupt the unseasonably warm temperatures the region has been experiencing.
Woodward Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer said, "We're seeing a pattern change in the weather allowing more arctic air to come in over next few weeks, so we'll see more normal temps for the season. We've been 15 to 20 degrees above normal, after the front we'll be running close to or a little below normal for the next one to 2 weeks."
Area residents may want to get out their winter coats as highs in the 60s and 70s will soon be a memory.
"We're expecting a significant temperature drop for next week coming in Saturday night into Sunday morning. Averages early in the week are expected to be in the low 40s then mid to upper 40s closer to the end of week," Lehenbauer said.
Unfortunately the change in temperature does not necessarily entail a change in precipitation forecasts.
"As far as precipitation, its still up in the air as to what kind we'll get, computer models have been changing every day, but as of today the chances of the accumulation of snow or much rain is light. There's a chance we could get some flurries and light rain, but right now general thinking is if we get any at all it'll be light," Lehenbauer said in an interview with The News on Thursday morning.
Lehenbauer explained, "There's a dry pocket of air moving in with the cold front so there's just not a lot of atmospheric moisture to work with. Forecasters will have a better look later in the week so that's something to keep updated on but that's the way its looking right now."
PREPARE HOME FOR WINTER WEATHER
Despite lack of any substantial precipitation, residents of Northwest Oklahoma may still have to be cautious of icy roads.
"If we get any moisture Saturday night we could possibly see some black ice Sunday morning, so that's something to watch out for," Lehenbauer said.
The emergency manager said that area residents may also look into taking other winter weather precautions.
"Most people have probably delayed getting ready for winter, just because of the warmer temperatures we've had and the fact that we've only had a few hard freezes, so now's the time to disconnect hoses from outside and cover up things usually left out in the warmer seasons," he said.
Other ways to prepare your home for winter is to take care of "any exposed pipes weather they be outside or under the home, now's the time to make sure they're insulated," Lehenbauer said.
In addition, he said to "Make sure heaters are operational. You can call any heat and air service company in the area and make sure they're functioning. I'd definitely test those out prior to the cold front hitting."
And while no severe weather is expected with this weekend's cold front to potentially knock out power, the emergency manager said people can still get prepared for the rest of the season.
"In case of any power outages, keep a few days of food and water on hand, a gallon per person is recommended. And make sure you have some way to safely heat at least one room of your house either through a furnace or fireplace or a generator," he said.
BE PREPARED FOR WINTER WEATHER ON THE ROAD
In addition to winterizing things at your home, Lehenbauer said it's important to make sure your vehicle is prepared for winter weather as well.
"We usually start getting into the ice storms and snowy seasons right around Christmas through February when it's usually the worse so now's the time to get a vehicle emergency kit prepared," he said.
What should that emergency kit consist of?
"Just basic supplies and things in case you break down," Lehenbauer said. "Something to primarily keep in mind if you were to break down while traveling is how you'll communicate. We tell folks even if you don't have a cell phone you can keep an old one in the car and still use it to call 911 with, so be sure you have one in the glove box as well as a charger for it."
Other basics to include in the emergency kit include "a blanket, flashlight, maybe extra winter clothes or a coat to stay warm, if you got stuck a small shovel or something to get yourself out with, and possibly some drinking water on a longer trip, which couldn't be stored permanently in the vehicle due to freezing, so just make sure you have some with you," Lehenbauer said.
The AAA organization has similar recommendations for winter weather vehicle preparedness, adding other important winter safety gear includes jumper cables, ice scrapers, and a first aid kit.
AAA also recommends carrying bags of abrasive materials such as clay based kitty litter or sand bags which can be thrown in the trunk or bed of rear wheel drive vehicles to provide additional weight. This will help the vehicle maintain traction and in a situation where your vehicle becomes stuck, the sand or litter can be used to help your vehicle regain traction.
AAA also recommends inspecting belts and hoses, topping off fluids, checking the inflation and tread of tires, and having a good strong battery, especially before taking any long car trips this winter.
Those planning on ignoring preparations for the upcoming winter weather, expecting it to pass and the unusually warm temperatures to return, may be disappointed, as Lehenbauer said, "We're expecting another cold front midweek and then one more towards late weekend."