Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Situation Update 2
March 20, 2010, 5:15 p.m.
WINTER STORM CONTINUES TO IMPACT STATE
Due to the winter storm moving through Oklahoma, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains activated and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas and will call on state and federal agencies to provide resources as needed.
Oklahoma remains under a State of Emergency, as approved by state authorities on Friday. 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.
A Winter Storm Warning continues for much of central and all of eastern Oklahoma through the overnight hours. Western sections are starting to clear out and parts of the warning have been replaced with a Winter Weather Advisory. Additionally, a Winter Weather Advisory continues for far south-central Oklahoma. Precipitation has cleared the panhandle and far northwest counties triggering all alerts to be canceled.
Snow will continue through Sunday evening across parts of the state. As the upper system shifts eastward across north Texas on Sunday the snow will end slowly west to east. Total snowfall accumulations are still expected to be greater than six inches in north-central and northeast Oklahoma. Farther south in central sections, 3-6 inches will be common with locally higher amounts. In western Oklahoma 3-5 inches has been reported with little in the way of additional snow expected.
INJURIES AND FATALITIES
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports 1 fatality and 55 injury crashes investigated due to the winter storm. A seven-year-old child died around 11:50 a.m. today in a crash on I-35 in Logan County. The child was not restrained and was ejected after the vehicle the child was traveling in lost control on the slick roadway and overturned. OHP investigated a total of 165 collisions related to the storm and responded to another 500 slide-off incidents that were not investigated.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 43 people were treated for multi-vehicle accident related injuries due to the storm.
OHP reports very heavy snow in the Tulsa area. The Creek Turnpike in south Tulsa and western Wagoner County and the north end of the Muskogee Turnpike in Wagoner County are snow packed and hazardous. Conditions on the Cimarron Turnpike continue to deteriorate as snow, sleet and high winds move through the area. Travel is discouraged. Numerous accidents and instances of vehicles sliding off the roadway were also reported on the Cimarron Turnpike. Vehicles were also reported in ditches in Craig, Osage and Washington counties.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports US 270 in Canadian County between Calumet and Geary is closed due to drifting snow.
Although snowfall is diminishing from the west as the storm moves toward the east, travel is still discouraged in portions of the state, particularly toward the east and northeast. ODOT crews continue to monitor, plow and treat roads and bridges as necessary.
The northeast portion of the state has wet and slushy to slick and hazardous conditions, with some snow-packed roads. Bridges are being treated in Tulsa County, while wet roads in the eastern part of the state are now becoming slick. Extreme caution is advised, as "black ice," which appears to be only wet, will be prevalent as temperatures drop overnight. All unnecessary travel is discouraged.
Central/northern Oklahoma has slick/hazardous roads, with icing conditions being reported on interstates in the Oklahoma City area, where a second round of snow began falling this afternoon.
The panhandle and northwest counties of the state are reporting mostly dry roads. Roads in western Oklahoma are slick to slick in spots, with blowing, drifting snow. Crews will be working throughout the night in some areas, paying special attention to keeping I-40 cleared and treated.
Roads in south central Oklahoma are beginning to dry.
No problems are reported in southeast Oklahoma.
Travelers are reminded to check conditions before trying to head out and, if conditions are safe enough to travel, to allow ample time to arrive at their destination. Traffic volume on major thoroughfares has the potential to be higher than normal due to spring break travelers and those attending the NCAA Basketball Tournament in Oklahoma City.
Motorists are advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary during adverse conditions. When traveling is necessary during snow and ice events, drivers should use caution and be alert on the roadways. Remember that bridges and overpasses are the first to freeze.
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.
Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City reports the storm caused some flight delays and cancellations. Snow accumulation, high winds and freezing fog slowed operations at the airport earlier today. Anyone traveling and those going to meet travelers are urged to check with the airline regarding flight status before driving to the airport. Sunday could also see delays and cancellations at the airport.
Cedar Lake Fire Department continues to operate a travelers rest center at the Rock of Restoration Church, 120 S. Walbaum, in Geary (I-40 at Exit #108). Two people have visited the center, which can be expanded to an overnight shelter if conditions warrant.
OEM continues to receive updates from the National Weather Service and stands ready to assist the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other disaster relief organizations in opening additional shelters and mass feeding sites as necessary.
OEM has industrial size generators pre-staged around the state. The generators will be deployed for use in hospitals, shelters and to keep water treatment plants online in the event of power outages. Please note these generators are not for residential use.
PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT
Oklahoma’s price gouging statute is 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.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) would like to remind all citizens, in the areas impacted by the winter storm, to stay indoors. Anyone who must venture out is urged to dress in layers of warm clothing and take emergency supplies such as, blankets, extra food, water and a fully charged cell phone. If a vehicle becomes stranded remain inside with the emergency flashers on. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and run the vehicle occasionally in order to keep the occupants warm. If venturing outdoors to check mail or to check on a home take a cell phone in case of a slip or fall.
In Tulsa, emergency medical officials responded to a rash of motor vehicle crashes during the late morning and early afternoon hours Saturday, as wintry precipitation began to impact travel. EMSA experienced higher than normal call volume between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. During the 4.5 hour span, EMSA paramedics provided care to 14 people hurt in crashes and four individuals who suffered injuries after falling on wet or snowy surfaces. None of the patients sustained life-threatening injuries.
EMSA call volume leveled off as the afternoon progressed. Paramedics report slick-but-improving conditions; motorists should continue to be cautious. Unnecessary travel is discouraged. Those who do drive need to observe slower speeds and increased distances between vehicles. Anyone walking outdoors should wear appropriate footwear and walk slowly; surfaces are quite slick.
For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency 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.
Enid/Garfield County Emergency Management reports approximately 3.5 inches of snow and a lot of blowing snow. Some drifting, up to 4 feet in some areas, reported as well. This is very apparent along the roads and around buildings. Roads are very slick and hazardous and local officials are discouraging any travel in or out of the area.