Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 5
February 10, 2011 – 4 p.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
WINTER STORM IMPACTS STATE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has returned to regular hours. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff continues to maintain contact with local emergency managers in the areas still affected by the winter storm through a 24-hour duty officer.
The National Weather Service reports with Wednesday's snow, Tulsa set records for the snowiest winter season, the snowiest February and the snowiest month. Oklahoma City had already shattered the record for the snowiest February.
Most of far northern Oklahoma received 10 to 15 inches of snow from late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. Several locations in Nowata, Mayes, Delaware and Craig counties saw 20 to 25 inches of snow.
This morning numerous locations set new record-low temperatures. Nowata's morning low of -31 degrees set a new all-time record for the lowest temperature in the state of Oklahoma. The old record of -27 had stood since 1930. Oklahoma City set a new record low (2 degrees) for this date. Almost every reporting station in the state saw lows in the single digits, with most of the northern half seeing lows of -10 or lower. Many locations in far northern Oklahoma had lows of -20 or lower.
Warmer conditions are in the forecast through the weekend and into next week when the state should see temperatures in the 60s and 70s.
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
Two fatalities are attributed to the winter storm, according to the Oklahoma Office of the State Medical Examiner.
A 62-year-old McLoud man died Tuesday when the propane heater he was using to stay warm caught fire.
A 56-year-old Beggs man died Wednesday. He was found dead in the snow near Beggs after his vehicle became stranded.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 240 storm-related injuries reported at hospitals throughout the state. Of that number, 174 were attributed to falls, 10 to carbon monoxide poisoning, 33 to transportation related accidents, 13 to cut/pierce injuries and 10 injuries involving a person struck by or against an object related to the storm.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports Troopers have worked 84 storm related crashes and responded to 260 calls for motorist assistance.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews report slick spots on highways throughout the state. However, today’s sunshine is helping to melt the snow.
In the northeast, counties near the Arkansas state line and west of Tulsa are reporting heavy snow pack on US-69 and I-40 near the state lines with only one lane open in each direction in some areas.
During winter weather conditions, motorists are asked to:
- Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
- Be aware of "black ice," which looks wet on the roadway, but is actually a thin layer of ice.
- Stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
For road conditions: Oklahoma highways, 888-425-2385 www.dps.state.ok.us; Oklahoma turnpikes, 877-403-7623 www.pikepass.com; OKC city streets www.OKC.gov; Tulsa city streets www.cityoftulsa.org. For road conditions numbers of surrounding states visit www.okladot.state.ok.us/road_condition.htm.
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. Wednesday night 25 people stayed at the shelter.
Strike teams completed final sweeps of snow packed northeast highways and turnpikes searching for stranded motorists Wednesday evening. 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.
At its peak, 310 Guard soldiers participated in the mission. Numerous contacts with motorists were made. Only three required assistance – motorists on Highway 75 and a tractor trailer truck driver on the Will Rogers Turnpike. Additionally, one ambulance was escorted also on Highway 75.
Numerous schools remained closed today due to snow-packed roadways and dangerously low temperatures.
State health officials warn 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.
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.
Johnston County Emergency Management reports roads in the county, especially off the highway, remain slick and snow packed. All county schools were closed today. All highways within the county have been sanded and graded and that will continue through the day as the thawing process begins. No power outages have been reported. Water pressure in the Coleman area is very low due to a well freezing but no other communities are reporting water problems. The courthouse and downtown businesses are open today. County is beginning to resume normal operation.
Bartlesville/Washington County Emergency Management reports all state and U.S. highways in the county have been cleared in most places. Only a few isolated areas remain with one lane only. Main city streets have been cleared. Residential streets are still drifted and impassable in most areas. County crews continue to work on the county roadways with most main roads being passable. Secondary roads are one lane at best.
Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management reports all county roads remain snow and ice packed with occasional clear spots. Major roads have been plowed and only a thin layer of ice/snow remains. This is enough however to cause travel problems. Shawnee and Tecumseh Street Crews and Pottawatomie County Highway District crews continue with plowing and applying a salt/sand mixture to the routes. Shawnee crews are moving operations into the secondary streets.
Situation Updates are posted at www.oem.ok.gov
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This is the final report for this event.