Texas Panhandle braces for a winter storm

A moderate winter weather event is on its way to Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

The National Weather Service is working with emergency operation centers in cities and counties across the upper 20 counties of the Texas Panhandle to brace for a storms impact.

“We definitely tend to have more active winters when we have El Nino conditions so that’s what we’re expecting,” said Michael Gittinger, morning meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

What the Texas Panhandle can expect is what the National Weather Service is calling a moderate winter weather event. Conference calls and webinars is how the National Weather Service coordinates with cities and counties to inform them what’s coming and when.

“We figure out what is the best recommendation for safety for citizens and individuals starting Friday morning,” said Chip Orton, Director of Emergency Management for Amarillo Area. “We focus on what impacts past Friday night and into Saturday.”

One of the big challenges when it comes to dealing with a fast moving big winter storm is you have less time to pinpoint where the exact higher impact areas are going to be.

“Where the lines fall and how much freezing rain or how much snow and ice we get,” said Orton. “How much of that will stick to the roads and then how much snow we will get past that.”

The National Weather Service launches two weather balloons daily to get the latest information on what this weather system is going to bring.

“When the snow comes in with this storm Friday evening it came in pretty heavy initially,” said Gittinger. “If the roads aren’t that bad and people are out and about you can get caught off guard really easily. The snow coming in hard and heavy means we can get a pretty good amount of snow on the road. People need to be paying attention to the weather.”

If you venture outside watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. In the event if you are driving and become stranded stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Do not leave your vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible. If working outside avoid over-exertion, as cold weather puts an added strain on the heart.

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