Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 30, 2006 -- Situation Update 1
WINTER STORM DELIVERS POWER OUTAGES TO PANHANDLE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received the following damage reports related to the winter storm that moved through the Panhandle on Friday and Saturday. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff remains in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
A strong storm system moved slowly across southern New Mexico late Thursday into Friday. This produced widespread snowfall across parts of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Especially hard hit were Cimarron and Texas counties where upwards of 12 inches of snow fell in some areas. Rain, ice and winds in excess of 55 mph in some areas, also accompanied the weather system. The remainder of Oklahoma received rainfall of 1-2 inches in most areas and a few areas received up to 4 inches.
Heavy power outages are reported in Texoma, Hooker, Tyrone and Boise City as well as many outlying areas. OEM is working with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to deliver three state-owned generators to the City of Boise City. The generators will be transported from Enid to Boise City where they will be used to provide power to the city's water treatment plant which is currently without power.
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports about 5,500 Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers are without power due to the winter storm. That figure is down from 7,500 without power earlier today. Initial estimates show between 150 and 200 distribution power poles are on the ground. Some substations have had power restored, but others cannot be back-fed due to transmission interconnection outages being experienced by Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) in the Texas Panhandle. OAEC has implemented its mutual aid assistance program and seven crews (about 32 personnel) along with their power restoration equipment have arrived at a staging location in Hooker. Tri-County Electric estimates it may take up to two days to restore power to the affected area. Roads in Texas County are extremely difficult to travel due to nearly four inches of rain that fell during the night and early morning hours. In some cases, bulldozers are forced to pull power restoration vehicles through the mud in order to make repairs possible.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) is discouraging travel in Cimarron and Texas counties. Since Friday, OHP has worked four crashes in the Panhandle area. Many roads remain impassible due to 10 to 12 inches of snow and drifting snow.
The following roads are closed:
US-287/385 north from Boise City
SH-325 west of Boise City
US-56/64/412 west of Boise City
US-385 west of Boise City
US-287 southeast of Boise City
OHP is also discouraging all travel west on I-40 at the Texas state line. I-40 is closed west of Amarillo and is expected to remain closed until at least noon on Sunday. Motels in the Amarillo area are already becoming full with stranded motorists. Travelers with destinations anywhere west of Amarillo are advised to seek lodging in Oklahoma City or western Oklahoma where motel rooms are still available.
For Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385.
For road conditions in other affected states, call:
New Mexico 800-432-4269
Shelters and Mass Feeding
A shelter is open at the First Methodist Church in Boise City for residents and stranded motorists. While Guymon has power, a shelter is open at the Guymon Community Center for residents without power in the outlying areas and stranded motorists. The Southern Baptist Men's Disaster Unit out of Hooker is cooking at the Guymon Community Center and will be sending meals to the shelter in Boise City. The Oklahoma County Chapter of the American Red Cross is coordinating the Red Cross response to ensure all displaced residents and travelers have a hot meal and warm place to sleep.
REPORTS FROM LOCAL JURISDICTIONS
Texas County Emergency Management reports all of Texas County, except Guymon, is without power and has been since around 3 a.m. today. Earlier today, Texoma had power restored but later power went down again. Texas County Emergency Management delivered a generator to Tyrone earlier today. Reports at least 109 power poles are down due to ice. Several substations are down. Several power lines down across highways forced temporary closures. Tractor-trailer traffic is being held up in places in Guymon due to low hanging power lines across the highways. Additional ice and light snow is expected later today.
Next situation update: As necessary.