Area under Winter Storm Watch later today; ice, snow predicted

Graphic Provided by National Weather Service

The National Weather Service issued this graphic Wednesday with estimates of ice accumulation across the state. Accumulation of between one-quarter of an inch and half-an-inch of ice is considered disruptive, with hazardous travel and potential for power outages.

NORMAN — Winter is forecast to come a bit early.

After advising of a possible winter storm at the beginning of the week, the National Weather Service has already issued a Winter Storm Watch for all of North and Western Oklahoma, and most of Southwestern and Central Oklahoma including Norman and the Oklahoma City metro.

The watch takes effect late today and extends into Saturday, with disruptive levels of freezing rain and ice and snow in the forecast for Cleveland County.

A timeline and more accurate predictions of accumulations will come later, but the current forecasted threat for the area begins on Friday. Norman and the Oklahoma City metro are expected to receive mostly freezing rain making slick roads and hazardous travel possible.

The high for Friday is 33 degrees Fahrenheit, but the overnight low is below freezing, making for ideal conditions for rain to freeze and stick to surfaces.

A quarter-inch of ice is considered by NWS to be a nuisance, making roads and bridges slick. Currently, NWS forecasts between a quarter-inch and half-inch of ice, which is a disruptive event that makes travel hazardous and power outages possible.

A half-inch of ice alone can add hundreds of pounds of weight to trees and power lines.

On Saturday, the area is forecast to receive between two to four inches of snow. This could add to the slickness of roads and complicate weekend travel further.

There is no word yet on how this will impact the Norman Christmas Holiday Parade which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday. The annual Norman Kiwanis Pancake Day, the organization's big fundraising event, is also still scheduled for 7 a.m. Saturday at Norman High School.

Moore has already postponed its Christmas events scheduled for this weekend, including Breakfast with Santa and the Christmas Spectacular at The Station at Central Park.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is encouraging drivers to download its new mobile phone app ahead of the winter weather. The new OkDOT app provides real-time traffic updates, traffic advisories and road conditions to users.

Also, OkDOT snow plows will come with live cameras this winter season, accessible through its weather road conditions map. These will serve rural areas of the state, while the metro areas already have access to about 400 live traffic cameras, according to a department press release issued last month.

Even the "Discussion" portion of the NWS website -- where forecasts are discussed in further detail -- read bleak Wednesday morning. Uncertainty remains about the timing and location of severe winter weather, but it states there is certain to be some impact when the storm hits Friday.