Winter weather returned to Northwest Oklahoma in a big way Wednesday morning with sometimes heavy snow throughout the area - snow that is expected to continue throughout the day.
“Roads are slick & wind is blowing vehicles off the road while they are going 20 mph,” Laverne EMS Director Bobbie Mitchell said. “Folks should stay home today. With the rapidly deteriorating road conditions we could have a difficult time getting to you should you slide off or have an accident. It's cold with high winds and hypothermia could happen pretty quickly today.”
Woodward Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer updated his special forecast around 7 a.m. with, “Welcome to Canadian-like weather today, and be ready for perfect snowman-building & snowball-fight snow.”
According to Lehenbauer, we are right in the bullseye for a significant, wet snowfall all day today and into tonight.
“Be prepared for lowered visibility and a few slick spots on roads,” Lehenbauer added. “Winds will increase a bit as the day progresses, gusting to 25 mph. Snowing on and off all day.”
Snowfall is expected to taper off by sunset with most of the area seeing at least 4 inches and some possibly more than 8 inches, according to Lehenbauer.
Some of the reported cancellations as of mid-morning on Wednesday included schools in Arnett and Taloga and the Ellis County Courthouse in Arnett. High Plains Technology Center in Woodward canceled day classes.
“With winds forecast to gust to over 25 mph and over a foot of snow possible, there will be lots of near white out conditions and some pretty big drifts,” Oklahoma Mesonet State Climatologist Gary McManus said. “It started out looking like maybe some minor accumulations, then we went to maybe 5-6 inches, now were up to 8 to 12 inches in localized areas with a nice big winter storm warning area centered on Northwest Oklahoma.”
According to McManus, it's already a winter wonderland out here with up to 5 inches reported in Ellis County near Shattuck north into Harper County near Buffalo already.
“Buffalo proper has received several inches of snow already and may receive up to 12 inches or more between today and tomorrow,” Harper County Assistant Emergency Manager Rene Spradlin said. “As the snow gets deeper today, we would advise that people not get out and drive unless they have 4-wheel drive vehicles that are higher off the ground.”
Spradlin also reminded residents to make sure pets are inside or in a warm, dry environment.
“Check on elderly loved ones and friends and be cautious walking on surfaces,” Spradlin said. “Luckily, the snow will end tomorrow and temperatures will gradually begin to warm up. Best advice is to stay home and stay warm until it’s over.”
The area is under a winter storm warning until noon on Thursday.