An early-season snowstorm will blanket parts of the southern Plains with up to half a foot of snow by the end of the day on Monday. The deepest accumulations are possible across portions of eastern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and western Oklahoma, where a handful of communities could see up to eight inches of snow. This early-season snowfall event adds to the already-early snows that have visited the central United States this fall.
A strong upper-level trough jutting south across the Rocky Mountains will lead to the development of a low-pressure system in Texas on Sunday night and Monday morning. Cold air to the north of the low will allow for precipitation to fall in the form of snow, while areas to south will have to deal with heavy rain and possibly even some severe thunderstorms down near the Gulf Coast.
The latest forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows a general swath of 4-6 inches of snow across northern parts of the Texas Panhandle and portions of western Oklahoma. The National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma, pointed out on Sunday night that some areas could see higher (or lower) totals than what’s currently forecast.
A couple of inches of snow are possible farther east across the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas. The season’s first measurable snow is a headache for commuters no matter what, but it could make travel especially tricky on Monday due to the amount of snow expected to fall.
Temperatures behind the low-pressure system could fall into the teens across parts of Texas and Oklahoma that see the deepest accumulations, while falling solidly below freezing just about everywhere else that sees precipitation. A hard freeze just after rain and snow will make black ice a serious hazard on Tuesday morning. The Canadian air descending across the United States behind this upper-level trough will usher in the coldest temperatures many areas have seen since last winter. Highs will struggle to get out of the mid-40s on Tuesday and Wednesday as far south as Houston, Texas, and Mobile, Alabama, respectively, with even chillier temperatures across communities farther inland.
Despite the unusual warmth that stuck around in the eastern half of the United States through the middle of autumn, a significant portion of the central part of the country has already seen measurable snow this year. Locations in the Rocky Mountains, northern Plains, and along the northern shores of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have already seen more than a foot of snow so far this season. Monday’s snowfall will be the first such event across parts of the southern Plains. Amarillo doesn’t typically see its first inch of snow until the middle of December, while the median date of the first inch of snow hovers between Christmas and New Year’s Day in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Significant early-season snowstorms are unusual on the southern Plains, but this kind of snow this early in the season is far from unprecedented. Amarillo saw significant snowstorms on the dates of the presidential elections in both 2000 and 2004, recording 8.9 inches of snow on November 7, 2000, and 8.4 inches of snow on November 2, 2004.