It looks like a quick shot of precipitation will fall on the Southern Plains on Tuesday with the potential for ice accumulations during the day. There is a pretty pronounced warm layer of air aloft — and the difference between sleet or freezing rain is always a difficult forecast. Regardless, this doesn’t look like an all-timer of an event to be sure.
Sleet or Freezing Rain?
The difference in precipitation type on these sorts of events is always tricky but it is important. The impacts of sleet or freezing rain are very different! This writer has seen enough of these storms to say confidently that expect surprises is the right call.
- The depth of the warm layer above freezing aloft does seem somewhat narrow which would favor sleet.
- Typically, these sorts of air masses are slightly cooler than models project at this range as well, which would be another sign pointing towards sleet vs. freezing rain.
- Still, what will probably happen is the typical freezing rain to sleet to snow transition in the region.
What does seem certain is this system is small and quick moving, both of which meaning heavy amounts of ice are not expected.
- A glaze of a tenth of an inch or slightly more is possible where freezing rain occurs, and that is certainly enough to cause some sporadic power outages.
- Sleet totals won’t be heavy, but even a little bit of sleet tends to make roads a mess.
Where will the ice occur?
At this time models seem pretty intent on introducing some freezing or frozen precipitation north and west of a line from San Angelo to Durant, OK. This might mean parts of DFW, OKC, and Tulsa could see some icy conditions.
Despite a warm start to the winter, we’ve certainly had our cold shots this month for sure — and the month of January should end cold as well. Many of us will see cold temperatures that will struggle to get out of the 20s with this front. Brrrrrrrr!