By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Garfield and Major counties have been added to a winter storm warning for midnight tonight through midnight Christmas evening.
Kingfisher and Blaine counties also are in a winter storm warning. Grant, Alfalfa, Woods and Woodward counties are in a winter weather advisory.
Mike Honigsberg, Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management director, advised holiday travelers today to remain aware of changes in weather conditions and to take prudent precautions before getting on the road.
In his daily email update Honigsberg said snowfall totals and areas affected by the approaching storm could change significantly over the next 24 hours.
“I always state that lines on any map are relative, so remember that they will change several times throughout the day and night as the storm approaches and moves through the area tonight and tomorrow,” Honigsberg said. “Winter storm tracks are normally difficult to determine, but as they waver, they can cause big changes in areas that might not be as prepared as others.”
Honigsberg advised people in the area, especially anyone with travel plans for Christmas, to monitor National Weather Service forecasts at www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/.
Honigsberg said the current forecast calls for Enid and north central Oklahoma to receive 2 to 5 inches of snow beginning at 8 a.m. Christmas Day.
Honigsberg stressed the main threat from the approaching storm is not the snow, but rather the wind and wind chill.
“This system is bringing very cold air with it, and winds from 25 to 45 mph and possibly higher gusts will make being outside extremely dangerous,” he said.
Overnight lows Christmas Eve are forecast to be in the teens with sustained winds 15 to 25 mph. The forecast high on Christmas Day will be around 20 degrees with north winds 20 to 30 mph.
“Mix all of this with snow and blowing snow, we could end up with extremely low visibilities and wind chills near zero,” Honigsberg said. “Skin will freeze in a matter of minutes with these types of temps and wind. Travel is being discouraged tomorrow, so if you have to travel, leave today and I wouldn’t make plans to come back tomorrow unless conditions in your area will allow for safe travel.”
For those who decide they must travel on Christmas, Honigsberg said some precautions should be taken.
“If you take the risk and travel, don’t leave without a full tank of gas, a fully charged cell phone, and all the basic things you would need to stay warm and nourished in the event you get stranded,” Honigsberg said. “Remember, if you get stranded and call for help, it will take us awhile to get to you, so keep this in mind.
“Hopefully, most everyone will stay in and enjoy the company of family and friends and not travel. This may seem like no big deal to many, but there are those who state it’s no problem and they will be okay, and then something does happen and we are dispatched out to find you and bring you to safety.”