White Christmas eludes Tulsa, falls mostly south and east
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
12/26/12 at 3:36 AM
A winter storm that raised hopes for a white Christmas in northeastern Oklahoma tracked farther south than expected, covering the southeast part of the state with generous amounts of snow but leaving the Tulsa area largely dry.
Most of the snow fell south of Interstate 40, although some areas southeast of Tulsa, such as Muskogee, saw at least a dusting, National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Sellers said.
Widespread snowfall totals of 4 to 7 inches were expected by early Wednesday in southeastern Oklahoma, where accumulating snow was expected to continue until about midnight Tuesday night. Three-inch totals were common by 4 p.m., Sellers said.
Most of the significant snowfall was in LeFlore County, which had 5 inches of snow accumulation by about 7 p.m., and northwest Arkansas, the National Weather Service reported.
Forecasters had expected the storm to take a southern route all along.
Early Tuesday, the Weather Service predicted that the northern reaches of the system would drop 1 to 3 inches of snow in Tulsa as the bulk of the moisture honed in on areas just south of Interstate 40.
A slight turn in the jet stream refocused the storm on far southeastern Oklahoma, Sellers said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the Weather Service was predicting the highest amounts for LeFlore County.
"The track of that system itself shifted far enough south to take us out of it," Sellers said. "Just any shift at all north or south (in the jet stream) makes a big difference."
Despite spotty freezing rain and sleet in northeastern Oklahoma early Tuesday and an afternoon of wet snow and winds greater than 20 mph in southeastern Oklahoma, American Electric Power-Public Service Company Of Oklahoma reported no power outages statewide Tuesday evening.
The storm's most significant effects were on travel, Sellers said.
In Oklahoma City, a 21- vehicle pileup injured at least three people when a tractor-trailer rig jackknifed on an Interstate 40 bridge over the Oklahoma River.
Several crashes were reported on highway bridges in Tulsa, whose only official precipitation through Tuesday afternoon was a trace of freezing rain.
Tim McCorkell, the city of Tulsa's street maintenance manager, said about 160 city workers were standing by to plow, salt and sand streets if needed.
An additional 41 state Department of Public Safety trucks were ready to treat Tulsa's highways if needed, and the agency had 550 trucks statewide preparing for the storm.
Plows were needed south of Interstate 40, where the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported widespread slick and hazardous roads by the afternoon.
Tulsa's last white Christmas was in 2009, when 6 inches of snow was on the ground Christmas morning, but the record for snowfall on Christmas stands at 1.3 inches in 1975.
The city has had 11 Christmases with any snowfall, most recently in 2010.
Original Print Headline: Snow falls mostly south, east of Tulsa area
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
A Lawton police cruiser tries to navigate a parking lot in the the snow as blizzard conditions hit southwestern Oklahoma at midday Tuesday. The storm tracked farther south than expected, covering the southeast part of the state with generous amounts of snow. BRANDON NERIS/ The Lawton Constitution/ Associated Press