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The Winter Storm of February 24-26, 2013

Synopsis                                                                                                                                         

For the third consecutive week, after winter weather events on February 12th and February 20-21, a major winter storm affected the southern Plains with widespread snowfall on February 24-26. An upper level storm system dove southeast through the Great Basin into New Mexico, then intensified rapidly as it lifted east-northeast through West Texas and the Red River Valley. Before any wintry precipitation fell, a few severe thunderstorms developed over southwest Oklahoma along a strong cold front. However, behind this front, very cold air allowed liquid precipitation to change over to snow and sleet by Sunday evening. The strength of this storm allowed it to produce significantly more wind than the ones which struck earlier in the month, leading to blizzard conditions in parts of northern and western Oklahoma.

A strong cold front pushed through the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles on the afternoon and evening of February 24, reaching into far western Oklahoma by midnight. Heavy snowfall developed behind the front, then gradually spread eastward overnight as temperatures fell to near or below freezing across western and northern Oklahoma. By early afternoon on February 25, moderate to heavy snow was occurring over most areas northwest of a line from Hollis to Kingfisher. Very heavy snowbands and occasional thundersnow led to significant snow accumulations over a large part of northwest Oklahoma. Several areas saw snowfall in excess of 15 inches, and when combined with the snow that was already present from the winter storm a few days before, snow depths of up to 25 inches were reported in localized areas. Strong and gusty winds led to snow drifts up to 5 to 8 feet in depth, shutting down many highways and secondary roads in western Oklahoma. The heavy wet nature of the snow caused some structural damage at Alva, Cherokee, and Woodward. Widespread power outages were reported due to snow-covered power lines and downed trees and tree limbs. The rain-snow line hovered near the I-44 corridor and Oklahoma City metro area for much of the afternoon, with many areas to the east only changing to snow after sunset as the event was winding down. The snow gradually tapered off from west to east during the late afternoon and evening, with most of the accumulating snow in central Oklahoma ending by midnight.

 

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