Frigid temperatures move into Oklahoma over the weekend
On its face, Saturday's forecast across much of Oklahoma doesn't sound so awful for December — a chance of drizzle with highs in the upper 30s.
The problem, though, is that high temperature likely came and went before your newspaper hit your doorstep.
Forecasters predicted temperatures in central Oklahoma would drop overnight Friday and continue to plunge throughout the day Saturday as a cold front moves across the state.
"It's a pretty cold air blast," said Matthew Day, a forecaster at the National Weather Service's Norman forecast office.
Temperatures in Oklahoma City were likely to climb to near 40 degrees by sunrise before dropping to the lower 30s by noon, Day said. Forecasters expect temperatures to continue to fall throughout the day, reaching the single digits Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The state's coldest overnight low temperatures are expected to be in northwest Oklahoma, where temperatures could dip below zero, forecasters said.
Those temperatures would be the coldest the state has seen since mid-January 2015, when much of the state saw single-digit overnight low temperatures, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network.
Along with this weekend's frigid temperatures will come chances for wintry precipitation. Central Oklahoma could see a half inch to an inch of snow, Day said, with snowfall totals of 1 to 2 inches possible in northern Oklahoma.
Smaller amounts of freezing drizzle also will be possible across much of the state on Saturday afternoon, Day said, so drivers should be cautious when venturing out.
In Oklahoma City, crews began salting bridges and overpasses Friday in preparation for the weekend's weather, said Shannon Cox, a spokeswoman for the city of Oklahoma City's public works department. The city has up to 34 trucks and 13,000 tons of salt available to treat roads.
If snow or freezing rain fall in the city, salt and plow crews will work around the clock to keep snow routes clear, city officials said. Officials urged motorists to slow down, allow extra time and stay at least three car lengths behind other vehicles if roads are treacherous.
Slick, icy roads already have claimed three lives in the Oklahoma City metro area this week. Clarence Lighty, 39, of Broken Arrow, Verlan Raines, 62, of Edmond and a third person whose name has not been released all died in crashes Thursday night as freezing drizzle blanketed roadways, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.
Agencies that serve Oklahoma City's homeless population are operating on a cold weather plan that makes extra space available to anyone who needs a warm place to sleep. Any time the wind chill drops below freezing, officials at the City Rescue Mission, Grace Rescue Mission, Jesus House and Salvation Army homeless shelters suspend certain rules, allowing anyone who needs a place to stay to come in for the night.
Homeless advocates also will canvass the city's streets throughout the weekend, looking for homeless people and encouraging them to come in from the cold.
Daytime high temperatures are expected to remain below freezing in central Oklahoma through the weekend before climbing to the mid-40s on Tuesday, forecasters predict.