Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 4
December 28, 2009 – 3 p.m.
WINTER STORM CONTINUES TO IMPACT STATE
Oklahoma remains under a State of Emergency, as declared by Gov. Brad Henry.
The Governor, along with state emergency management, public safety and transportation officials, continues to urge motorists to travel with caution as roads remain slick and hazardous in some areas.
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.
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) officials are working with local emergency managers and other officials to begin assessing damages and other costs associated with the winter storm. Already, the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports between $1.5 and $2.25 million in infrastructure damage to rural electric systems, including 43 high-voltage transmission line structures belonging to Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.
Light snow is expected statewide Tuesday afternoon into the evening hours, ending by early Wednesday. Current forecasts call for 1 to 2 inches of snow widespread, with isolated amounts of up to 4 inches, primarily in central Oklahoma. Light freezing drizzle may also occur in southern Oklahoma late Tuesday.
Snow should begin by Tuesday afternoon in southwest Oklahoma and move northeast during the late afternoon and evening hours. Snow may change to freezing drizzle in some areas. A cold rain in southeast Oklahoma is possible early Wednesday.
A snow advisory or winter weather advisory may be needed for parts of the state Tuesday afternoon. Impacts are expected to remain limited, primarily affecting travel.
On Thursday, light snow is again possible across parts of the state. Moisture will be limited and the system is expected to move quickly through the state. As such, snow accumulations should stay below one inch. No advisories are anticipated right now.
As with Tuesday, impacts from this event are expected to be limited.
This next round of winter weather is forecast as Oklahoma continues to recover from last week’s historic storm. Oklahoma City received a record 14.1 inches of snow on Thursday – the highest number of snow ever received there in one day. Other areas of the state were blanketed with 6 to 8 inches of snow.
INJURIES AND FATALITIES
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports 9 fatalities attributed to the winter storm. All died in storm related traffic collisions.
A 61-year-old man was killed in a wreck on I-40 eastbound at mile marker 129.
A 42-year-old man, 41-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man were killed in a two-vehicle collision in the Sand Springs area.
A man (age not available) was killed in a wreck at SH-3 and South Rock Creek Road.
A 50-year-old man died after being struck by an oncoming vehicle when he stepped from his vehicle following a non-injury collision in Stephens County.
A 52-year-old man (pedestrian) was struck by an oncoming vehicle as he attempted to cross the road during the blizzard to assist, also in Stephens County.
A 23-year-old man died after being ejected from a vehicle he was a passenger in that slid on the ice, left the roadway, and rolled one time in Grady County.
A 15-year-old girl from Cordell and a 14-year-old girl from Elk City died when the vehicles they were passengers in crashed 1.2 miles west of Canute on the Burns Flat/Canute cutoff road.
Additionally OHP responded to 81 injury wrecks related to the storm.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 482 injuries related to the winter storm. Most were for broken bones, slips and falls and heart attacks. Some required treatment at hospitals; others were treated at the scene. Some hospitals had to go on generator power and at least one had to divert patients elsewhere due to the storm. Additionally, there were numerous reports of hospital medical staff having to work extra shifts because their relief workers could not get to the hospital due to treacherous road conditions.
Between December 24 and December 27, EMSA responded to 1,079 emergency medical calls in the Oklahoma City area. Included in that number were 149 falls and 92 motor vehicle crashes. During the four-day period, paramedics transported 728 patients to hospitals for continued care. During the same time period, EMSA paramedics responded to 834 calls in the Tulsa area. Included in that number were 116 falls and 134 motor vehicle crashes. Staffing was a challenge for EMSA which had employees activated by the Oklahoma National Guard, and had employees who couldn’t make it out of their own neighborhoods. EMSA used four-wheel drive support vehicles to go pick up stranded employees and bring them into work.
Oklahoma National Guard personnel rescued motorists stranded on the state’s turnpikes and interstates. The Guard, traveling by Humvees, reached more than 40 stranded motorists.
OHP received more than 1,000 calls for assistance and worked 362 wrecks. Nearly 350 troopers worked Oklahoma roads assisting motorists on Thursday and more than 250 worked on Friday.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) had all maintenance crews working around the clock from before the storm hit until late Saturday with fewer crews continuing Sunday and today. Statewide, more than 1,000 ODOT employees were involved in snow-clearing efforts during the holiday weekend. Crews from the western part of the state, where the storm ended first, were reassigned to other areas of the state needing assistance.
There were no other requests for state assistance.
ODOT reports targeted snow clearing and road treatment operations continue, mainly where run off from melting snow and ice has refrozen. All major highways are clear however motorists are reminded to exercise caution, particularly as the evening hours approach.
Hundreds of abandoned cars littered Oklahoma roadways as a result of the winter storm. OHP and municipal officials urge motorists to remove those vehicles immediately or they will be towed at the owner’s expense. In Oklahoma City, motorists may call (405) 297-1189 to find out where their vehicle has been towed.
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:
Arkansas 800-245-1672; Colorado 303-639-1111; Kansas 866-511-5368; Missouri 800-222-6400; New Mexico 800-432-4269; and Texas 800-452-9292.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports 61 homes and businesses in the Tipton area remain without power due to the winter storm. At the height of the storm about 47,350 electric customers were without service including:
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports at least 11 rural electric cooperatives (REC) had outages during the storm, meaning each had at least 50 consumers without power at some point. All total, about 14,750 REC customers were without power due to the storm. The cooperatives, along with outage numbers, are:
Southwest Rural Electric Association, Tipton: 3,000 outages
Caddo Electric Cooperative, Binger: 1,500 outages at peak
Rural Electric Cooperative, Lindsay: 250 outages at peak
People’s Electric Cooperative, Ada: 150 outages at peak
East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Okmulgee: 100 outages at peak
Kiwash Electric Cooperative, Cordell: 2,000 outages at peak
Harmon Electric Association, Hollis: 2,000 outages at peak
Northfork Electric Cooperative, Sayre: 500 outages at peak
Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters: 2,500 outages at peak
Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Norman: 1,500 outages at peak
Cimarron Electric Cooperative, Kingfisher: 1,250 outages at peak
Five municipally operated electric systems reported about 7,300 customers without power. This included: Altus, 3,655; Frederick 2,198; Granite 664; Lexington 750; and, Purcell 20.
AEP/PSO reported about 17,300 outages at the height of the storm, including 13,523 in the Lawton area, 1,555 in McAlester and 2,223 in Tulsa.
OG&E reported about 8,000 power outages to homes and business primarily in the Oklahoma City area.
Additional the Corporation Commission reports at the height of the storm about 1,600 telephone customers lost service, including 1,200 Pioneer Telephone Cooperative customers in Frederick and 400 AT&T customers in Indiahoma. Service has been restored to these customers.
Operations are back to normal at both Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa.
Will Rogers World Airport closed to aircraft operations at 1 pm on Thursday. Almost all airport maintenance personnel were called in to work the airfield, clean sidewalks and roadways and assist in the terminal building. At 2:50 a.m. Friday, 14 hours later, the airport reopened with one runway. An estimated 100 flights were cancelled. Additionally, airport authorities towed nearly 40 vehicles on Friday and Saturday so that entrance and exit roadways to the airport terminal could be cleared. Cars that were left on Meridian Avenue south from 54th Street, Terminal Drive or Air Cargo Road were moved to one of two locations on airport property. Vehicle owners who want to claim their vehicles should contact the airport at (405) 680-3000 during business hours. All three runways are operational today along with all taxiways. While the roadways in and out of the airport are passable, work continues to clear all lanes. Similarly, the parking lots are passable but plowing and shoveling continues.
At Tulsa International Airport additional maintenance workers were brought in as the airport activated its plan which allows snow removal and runway treatment between airline takeoffs. On Thursday airlines cancelled a majority of flights and on Friday airlines cancelled 35 to 40 percent of flights.
The American Red Cross has closed shelters opened to assist stranded motorists. At shelters in Lawton, Norman and El Reno more than 200 people were assisted. Other shelters were opened locally in Chickasha, Wellston, Choctaw, Newcastle, Purcell, Moore and Pauls Valley.
In Oklahoma City, volunteers are needed to assist elderly and special needs residents with clearing snow from their walkways and driveways. Organizations, particularly church groups, are encouraged to form volunteer teams. Those interested in assisting should have their team leader register their team by calling 2-1-1. Information will be provided soon for those requesting assistance. The recruitment effort is a partnership between United Way of Central Oklahoma, HeartLine 2-1-1 and the City of Oklahoma City.
This is the final Situation Update for this event.