Just in time for the National Weather Service’s issuance of a frost advisory for the Woodward area through 9 a.m. today, Woodward Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer has released the climatology and long-range winter forecast for the county.
The long-range forecast from November through January.
Thankfully, Lehenbauer doesn’t think conditions will get to the point where a disastrous 26-inch snowfall, like the one that struck Woodward County and caused between $8 million and $10 million in damage on March 27-29, 2009, will reoccur.
“It’s not likely we will see that this year because of less moisture and warmer temperatures caused by a La Nina,” Lehenbauer said.
He explained that La Nina - “opposite of El Nino” - happens when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific become cooler than normal. The cooling affects global weather, including the tendency for a warmer and drier winter in the southern U.S., and a cooler and wetter season in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.
“The current La Nina is expected to continue strengthening and remain in place throughout the 2010-11 winter season,” Lehenbauer said.
He said folks who have crops and livestock will experience “frustration” with the dry, warm and also the windy weather, as will firefighters. They battled wildfires under similar conditions between 2005 and 2008, Lehenbauer noted.
“The only thing good about these conditions for us is that more energy will need to be sent (from Oklahoma) to the Midwest and Pacific Northwest,” Lehenbauer said. “In turn, this drives up energy costs.”
WINTER WEATHER AVERAGES
Lehenbauer reports Woodward County averages about 17 inches of snow and sleet each year, and sees 11 days with snow on the ground annually.
“We usually see an average of 1.5 inches of snow in November and 4 inches in December, seeing an average of 1 day with snow on the ground in November and 3 days in December,” he said.
Woodward County’s average daily high temperature for November is 61 degrees, and lows daily are 33 degrees, Lehenbauer said.
However, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the county happened on Jan. 4, 1947, and came in at minus-24 degrees, Lehenbauer reported. The greatest snowfall record for a 24-hour period was the 26-inch blanketing from March 2009.
Even though the La Nina is expected to keep things warmer and drier, Lehenbauer said it is still important to be prepared for winter weather.
“Now is a great time to make all your winter weather preparations, including winterizing your home and vehicles, checking the heating system in your home and work, and stocking up winter weather emergency kits at home and in your car,” he said.
When it comes to checking your heating system, Lehenbauer suggested making sure filters have been changed, the system is clean and clear of debris and that system components haven’t been damaged by chewing rodents.
Top items to include in winter emergency kits include blankets and water, he said. In addition, when putting together a kit for your car, he suggested including "a way to call for help."
For more information check www.readywoodward.com. Once at the website, go to the “Weather Center,” then click on the “Long Range Weather” link at the bottom of the page.
In addition, Lehenbauer said a great way to be prepared is to stay informed.
“To get free, official local winter weather alerts and emergency information on your cell phone, send a text message with the words "Follow readywoodward" to 40404,” he said.