Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 1
December 24, 2009 – 2 p.m.
WINTER STORM IMPACTING STATE
Due to the severe winter weather, Gov. Brad Henry has declared a State of Emergency for all 77 counties. The executive order marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary. Additionally, the order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions.
The Governor, along with state emergency management, public safety and transportation officials, is discouraging all travel. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) remain in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
The National Weather Service has posted a Blizzard Warning for much of central (north/south), southwest, and a few counties in northeast Oklahoma.
A powerful storm system is moving through Texas today and as this system approached Oklahoma overnight, cold Arctic air was pulled into the state. As the cold air moved across the state, rain briefly changed to freezing rain putting down a thin coat of ice on roadways. Sleet has been occurring across a large part of eastern Oklahoma. Farther west in Oklahoma City, snow with whiteout conditions are being reported in many areas. Snow will be common across much of Oklahoma through the afternoon hours and start to diminish in southwest Oklahoma this evening. Snow should end across the state by Friday morning.
Reports show 3 to 4 inches of snow has fallen across parts of central Oklahoma and 4.5 inches in southwest Oklahoma, with higher amounts from Altus to Lawton to El Reno. Farther east, sleet has been occurring in the Tulsa area. A change over to snow is expected in a few hours in the Tulsa area. Snowfall of 4 to 8 inches is likely with localized amounts to 11 inches.
Travel will be impossible during the next 18 hours across a large part of the state. Very strong winds gusting to 60 mph are likely across the state, with some decrease in speed by Friday morning. Bitterly cold temperatures will occur through at least Sunday. Oklahoma City is not expected to get above freezing through Sunday night.
Members of the Oklahoma National Guard are being deployed to help stranded motorists on the HE Bailey Turnpike. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) continues to respond to numerous crashes and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) continues to treat slick and hazardous roadways. There are no other requests for state assistance at this time. Industrial size generators are pre-staged around the state and can be deployed if necessary. These generators are NOT for households but rather for municipal water treatment plants or shelter operations should power outages require. OEM is standing by to deploy any necessary resources as needed.
OHP reports the HE Bailey Turnpike is shutdown southbound at Newcastle and northbound at the Texas state line. I-40 is impassible in numerous areas due to weather conditions and multiple collisions. Troopers continue to work numerous wrecks across the state.
ODOT reports travel in western and southwestern parts of the state is especially discouraged at this time. Blizzard conditions in far western and southern counties have reduced visibility. Highways remain slick in the western two thirds of the state, and conditions continue to deteriorate.
Crews have been applying sand/salt mixtures as needed to highways, especially bridges and overpasses, which generally are the first to freeze.
Drivers are reminded to stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment, for both their safety and the safety of the operators. During snow and/or ice conditions, motorists are asked to:
- Be aware that conditions are continually changing; drive cautiously and for the conditions on the roadway.
- Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
- Allow extra space between vehicles, so there is adequate distance for braking in wet and icy conditions.
- Stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
- Be aware of "black ice," which looks wet on the roadway, but is actually a thin layer of ice.
- Please be patient, plan trips ahead and allow extra time to reach destinations.
To check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS, call the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety's ROAD CONDITIONS HOTLINE at 888-425-2385.
For out of state road conditions:
New Mexico 800-432-4269;
For those who must travel, remember to have a cell phone with a charged battery. Travel with a full tank of gas, blankets, water and other items required should you find yourself stranded awaiting a tow truck or first responders. Let others know your destination and the route you plan on traveling. Also, remember porches, parking lots and driveways are also slick and hazardous.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports about 16,000 homes and businesses are without power due to the storm. This includes the following outages.
Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports:
Caddo Electric Cooperative, Binger: 650 outages
Cimarron Electric Cooperative, Kingfisher: 1,000 outages
Kiwash Electric Cooperative, Cordell: 250 outages
Southwest Rural Electric Association, Tipton: 500 outages
Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Hooker: 50 outages
OG&E reports 3,362 customers without service including 2,918 in the metro Oklahoma City area.
AEP/PSO reports 9,765 customers without electric service including 1,014 in the Chickasha area, 2,279 in Hobart and 7,114 in Lawton.
Officials with Will Rogers World Airport report the airport is under white-out conditions and single runway operations. They continue to encounter blizzard conditions with minimum visibility and rapid snow accumulations. Most of today’s flights have been cancelled. Anyone traveling today needs to check with their airline.
Lawton/Comanche County Emergency Management reports the American Red Cross is opening a shelter at Lawton High School, 601 NW Fort Sill Blvd. for anyone displaced by the storm. American Red Cross is also assisting with stranded motorists due to the multi-car pileup on I-40 near El Reno.
Oklahoma State Department of Health reports Unity Hospital in Shawnee is on generator and diverting patients. County health departments are closed due to the weather in Cleveland, Carter, Love, Seminole, Hughes, Okfuskee, Major, Payne, Beckham, Kay, Pawnee, Noble and Washington counties.
EMSA reports medics have responded to multiple calls in the past hour. Since 5 a.m., paramedics have transported 54 people to local hospitals. Of the 94 911 calls received since 5 a.m., 25 have been motor vehicle crashes. Ten transports to the hospital were from slips and falls. Medics are noting many cars stuck in the snow.
Oklahoma City reports 30 salt spreading trucks have been treating roadways with a concentration on the City’s snow routes. Snow plows will be out later today.
Lawton/Comanche County Emergency Management reports very high winds, freezing precipitation and now several inches of snow received since early morning hours has caused numerous power outages and downed power lines throughout the county. Power outages are reported in Paradise Valley, Indiahoma, Fletcher, Sterling, Medicine Park, Pecan Valley and Lawton. With road conditions very slick and hazardous, travel is discouraged. With much more freezing precipitation and snow expected throughout the day, driving conditions are expected to get worse.