Wichita can expect a snowy Christmas Day this year.
It may just be flurries, forecasters say, or it could be enough to cloak the metropolitan area in a light coat of snow.
The amount will depend on the track taken by a strong storm system that is expected to bring violent tornadoes to the Deep South on Tuesday. Southern Kansas is on the northern fringes of the storm.
“We’re definitely going to get some cold air out of this,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Caruso said. “The most significant snow should miss us to the south and west.”
The weather service is projecting no more than flurries to a half-inch of snow for Wichita, while AccuWeather predicts an inch of snow for the city.
If the storm track shifts north even a little bit, “we could get a lot of snow,” AccuWeather vice president Mike Smith said. “Right now, much of northern Oklahoma will get 6 to 10 inches.”
People planning to drive south into Oklahoma or the Ozarks on Tuesday should reconsider their plans, Smith said.
I-35 from the state line to Oklahoma City “is going to be a mess” Tuesday, he said.
People driving due west and south from Wichita could run into travel difficulties, Caruso said. Snow and blowing snow could cause problems along U.S. 400 and points south, he said.
There has to be an inch of snow on the ground for it to qualify as a “white Christmas,” Caruso said, and if the weather service forecast proves accurate Wichita isn’t likely to get there.
But if flurries in the air are enough to count for residents, then this Christmas will fit the bill.
Bundling up will not be optional, though.
Highs are only expected to touch 20, with blustery north winds shoving the wind chill below zero during the day. Winds will be steady in the 20s, with gusts expected to top 30 miles an hour.
Wind chills overnight will fall into the negative teens, Caruso said.
Anyone with travel plans should monitor updated forecasts for the latest information, forecasters say.