A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from midnight Saturday night until noon Monday in anticipation of heavy snow accumulations and “dangerous wind chills.”
Some of the possible impacts are near whiteout conditions, power outages and blowing snow that could drop visibility to near zero.
Chase Benton, a certified storm spotter and a senior information systems major from Tuscola, said the upcoming week of winter weather may be unprecedented for Abilene.
“Living in Abilene my whole life, I have never seen a forecast quite like this,” Benton said. “Not only are we expected record cold, we also have multiple winter precipitation opportunities for the next couple of days, which almost never happens.”
Current forecasts, as of Friday, are calling for 4-6 inches of snow Sunday with temperatures falling to 0 degrees overnight. Benton said the wind is another concern that people should be aware of.
“I expect the actual air temperature to get into the single digits to near or slightly below zero Monday morning with ‘feels like temps’ -15 to -20 due to the wind,” Benton said.
The city of Abilene is also opening a warming center at the Rose Park Senior Center Sunday morning for those whose homes do not provide adequate shelter.
In addition to the snow expected Sunday and Monday, additional accumulations are expected Wednesday.
“Brief blizzard conditions will be possible Sunday evening,” Benton said. “Then, potentially another system could cause travel issues Wednesday.”
While the university hasn’t made any decisions related to in-person instruction, the SRWC is uncertain its facility will be open.
“The SRWC has always attempted to keep its doors open for at least a few hours each day,” Joel Swedlund, executive director of the SRWC, said in an email. “However, with the arctic blast that’s headed our way, we may not be able to do so.”
It was announced Saturday that the SWRC and the Brown Library would be closed Sunday.
Benton said travel should be avoided, but be prepared if you do decide to venture out.
“The best advice I can give anyone is to just stay put and stay warm,” Benton said. “If you must travel, make sure you have an emergency kit in case you get stranded. Do not leave any pets outside.”
Benton became a certified storm spotter by visiting the local NWS offices and completing an online test. You can keep up to date with weather updates in Abilene by following him on Twitter.