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March 27-28, 2009 Winter Storm
Event Narrative

A strong, late-season winter storm walloped northwest Oklahoma with record setting snowfall. North winds began gusting over 40 mph when a cold front moved into northwest Oklahoma just after midnight on March 27th. Temperatures quickly fell into the 20s and 30s. At the same time, a powerful upper level storm moved out of New Mexico, and began to intensify over the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles, spreading moisture and lift downstream into northwest Oklahoma.

Snow began around daybreak from Buffalo to Woodward and Gage. It was late afternoon, however, when snow became moderate and heavy, leading to significant accumulations. By early evening, some locations had already picked up over six inches of snow. The blustery winds also caused blowing and drifting which further reduced visibility and soon made traveling dangerous or impossible.

Snow became more widespread overnight, and some thunder was even observed with the more intense squalls beneath the upper level storm. Snowfall rates of one to two inches per hour were reported, and locations north of a line from Roll to Mutual and Cherokee received between one and two feet of snow by sunrise. Snowfall totals lessened rapidly to the south of the upper level storm track, but a respectable 3 to 6 inches of snow was measured from Elk City and Cordell up to Watonga and Enid, and over to Stillwater. Snowfall totals of up to two inches were reported as far southeast as Oklahoma City. A sharp southern cut-off to the snowfall represents the influence of a stream of dry mid and upper level air that developed from the Texas South Plains up through southwest and central Oklahoma.

Almost all roads in northwest Oklahoma were snow packed and impassable for some time. Some roads were said to be unidentifiable, and in other cases the snowpack was so tall and heavy that bulldozers could not clear a path. Several roofs collapsed under the weight of the heavy, wet snowpack. During the storm, numerous traffic accidents resulted in mostly minor injuries. Two people died, however, in accidents that were indirectly related to the presence of the winter storm. At least 6,000 people lost power during the peak of the blizzard, and some went without power for two full days.

In June, the White House approved a request from Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry for federal disaster aid in four counties, Beaver, Ellis, Woods, and Woodard, where up to two feet of snow fell.


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