Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 4
February 9, 2011 – 4 p.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
WINTER STORM IMPACTS STATE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will return to regular hours at 7 p.m. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff will maintain 24-hour contact with emergency managers in the areas still affected by the winter storm through a duty officer.
Bitterly cold conditions will continue through Thursday with overnight temperatures near zero degrees and below. Winds will decrease overnight allowing for improved wind chill conditions. A warm up will occur this weekend with temperatures rising into the 50s statewide. Areas in northeast Oklahoma which received the most snowfall will be slower to warm than the rest of the state. In these areas snow may remain through the weekend.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
The State of Emergency declared by Gov. Mary Fallin for last week’s blizzard remains in effect. The State of Emergency marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance, should it be necessary. Additionally, the executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster public assistance program as conditions warrant.
FATALITIES AND INJURIES
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports the following 80 injuries related to the current winter storm: 63 falls, 1 carbon monoxide poisonings, 14 transportation related accidents and 2 cut/pierce injuries.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports Troopers have worked 70 storm related crashes and responded to 203 calls for motorist assistance.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews report roadways throughout the state are now passable following a snow storm that left more than 20 inches of snow in some parts of the state. Afternoon sunshine and calmer winds aided crews in the snow removal process. However, as night falls motorists should be aware that melted snow can refreeze into black ice. Travel is still discouraged as crews also report slick and hazardous conditions. In the northern two-county tier, most areas also report snow-packed roads.
In parts of Osage, Mayes and Delaware counties, snow fall accumulations of 20 inches or more were reported with drifts as high as five feet in some areas. Crews from some southern counties have been deployed to that hard-hit region. Additionally, ODOT is using private contractors to augment state crews in some areas. In the southeastern counties of Bryan and Atoka, crews report US-69 is down to one clear lane in each direction.
Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro area drivers are reminded 10-second video loops, updated every two minutes and showing current road conditions, are available for viewing at www.oktraffic.org. For more information regarding Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385 or go to www.dps.state.ok.us. For the latest conditions on Oklahoma Turnpikes, call 1-877-403-7623 or go to www.pikepass.com. For road conditions in other neighboring states: Texas 800-452-9292, www.txdot.gov; Kansas 866-511-5368, www.511.ksdot.org; Arkansas 800-245-1672, www.arkansashighways.com; Colorado 303-639-1111, www.cotrip.org; New Mexico 800-432-4269, www.nmroads.com; and, Missouri 800-222-6400, www.modot.org.
The American Red Cross continues to operate a shelter at Crosstown Church of Christ in Tulsa for any stranded motorists and others displaced by the storm.
Today strike teams assisted multiple motorists in northeast Oklahoma. The teams were comprised of members of the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. OEM coordinated the deployment of the strike teams through the State EOC. The Guard utilized heavy wreckers to assist several semi tractor trailer trucks in the Big Cabin area which had become immobilized by the snow and used Humvees to assist numerous motorists.
On Tuesday, more than 275 National Guard personnel were stationed with Humvees at armories in Ardmore, Bristow, Broken Arrow, Chandler, Claremore, Lawton, McAlester, Muskogee, Mustang, Norman, Okemah, Ponca City, Sand Springs and Stillwater. Each National Guard unit was assigned an OHP Trooper and depending where the stranded motorist search occurred a snow plow operator with ODOT or OTA was also available to provide assistance.
Additionally, the bottled water, cots, blankets and MREs (meals ready to eat) FEMA provided last week remain available for use in shelters and warming stations as needed for stranded motorists or power outages. OEM has also pre-positioned state industrial-sized generators around Oklahoma.
All state offices in Canadian, Cleveland, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties are closed today. Numerous schools and businesses are also closed.
Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City is open and active. Most commercial flights are operating on time or with minimal delays. There are still a few cancellations through the end of the day, so the airport continues to advise travelers to check their flight status before leaving home. Airport officials anticipate commercial operations will be normal tomorrow barring any weather impacts at other airports.
At Tulsa International Airport the terminal is open there as well. After canceling most of their early morning operations, airlines are now operating most of their afternoon and evening flights. However, travelers are advised to contact their airline before leaving for the airport to confirm their flight status.
Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, or in extreme cases, death. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to extreme cold. Frostbite occurs when the skin becomes cold enough to actually freeze. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the nose are symptoms of frostbite. Hypothermia (low body temperature) can occur during longer periods of exposure when the body temperature drops below 95 F. A person will become disoriented, confused, and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible. The following tips can help decrease the risk of cold exposure:
- Wear layered clothing outdoors for better protection from the cold. Wear a cap to prevent rapid heat loss from an uncovered head. Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
- While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 F. This is especially important for the elderly and small children to prevent hypothermia.
- Sleep warm with extra blankets, a warm cap, socks and layered clothing.
- Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
- Carry extra clothing, blankets and high energy snacks, such as cereal or candy bars in your car for protection if car stalls. Keep the gas tank near full to prevent icing. Don't travel alone.
- Check daily on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone.
- The elderly and very young should stay indoors as much as possible. Offer to shop for elderly friends and relatives. Just like in the summer with heat, it takes some time to get acclimated to cold weather.
HEAVY SNOW MEANS POTENTIAL FOR ROOF COLLAPSES
As more than 18 inches of snow fell in parts of Oklahoma, emergency management officials from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and FEMA are reminding residents to be aware of the risk caused by heavy snow accumulating on rooftops.
Officials with OEM and FEMA advise residents NOT to climb onto their roofs to shovel the snow. Instead, residents are being asked to be on the lookout for some of the warning signs, such as sagging roofs, severe roof leaks, cracks, bends or ripples, cracks in the walls, sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles, doors that pop open, doors or windows that are difficult to open or close, and/or creaking, cracking or popping sounds.
If these signs of roof distress are present, the structure or the portion of the building that is affected should be evacuated. If the roof collapses, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.
PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT
Oklahoma’s price gouging statute remains in effect in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties due to the State of Emergency. The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a State of Emergency has been declared. Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.
For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone. Please only call 911 for emergencies.
Walters Emergency Management reports about 1.5 inches of snow received with some drifts in the 18-inch range. Streets are snow packed but easy to drive on with caution. Highways 5 and 53 remain slick, despite work by state crews. I-44 north to Lawton is in good condition but accidents are reported. People need to be very cautious when driving. School is closed today.
Perkins Emergency Management reports 5 to 7 inches of snow. Perkins City Hall remains open. Perkins Public Works personnel are busy clearing intersections and emergency routes. ODOT road crews have been busy on both Highway 177 and Highway 33 through the corporate limits of Perkins. They have also focused a good deal of attention on Highway 177 north from Perkins to Stillwater.
Pontotoc County Emergency Management reports all roads are snow covered to snow packed. They are becoming slicker as the roads become snow packed. Very few accidents so far in the county, no injuries reported as of yet. No damages or power outages reported. County road crews continue to clear roads and spread sand.
Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management reports all county roads are hazardous. Four inches of snow reported in the northern end of the county (measured at Shawnee City Hall) with lesser amounts down south made it difficult for travel. Visibility is reduced because of snow and blowing snow. They continue to recommend people stay off the roads unless travel is an absolutely necessary. Shawnee Street Crews continue with 24-hour operations and are plowing and applying a salt/sand mixture to the primary routes. Pottawatomie County Highway District crews are plowing and salting/sanding the hard surfaced roads. Tecumseh street crews are plowing their streets.
Situation Updates are posted at www.oem.ok.gov
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Next Situation Update: As conditions warrant