March 27, 2009 — 12:30 p.m.
WINTER STORM IMPACTING STATE
Due to the severe winter weather, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is at Level Two activation, which involves extended operating hours for key personnel. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
A powerful upper level storm system continues to bring winter weather conditions to the northwestern two-thirds of the state. Isolated severe thunderstorms are possible across central and eastern Oklahoma this afternoon and evening with large hail being the primary threat.
A blizzard warning continues for the OK panhandle and northwest Oklahoma for 10-15 inches of snow. North-central Ok remains under a Winter Storm warning where a quarter-inch of ice may accumulate before change over to snow occurs this evening. Snow accumulations of 6-10 inches are possible. Central and west-central Oklahoma is under a Winter Storm warning where 4-8 inches of snow are possible.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Gov. Brad Henry has declared a State of Emergency for 50 Oklahoma counties affected by the storm. The executive order marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary. Additionally, the order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports, since midnight troopers have worked 10 collisions in the northwest area of the state as a result of the storm. Three crashes involved injury.
Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports about 2,450 electric customers are without power due to the storm. About 250 Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers in the panhandle and about 2,200 Northwestern Electric Cooperative customers in rural Harper County are without service. Service to the Town of Buffalo was restored around 10 a.m. today.
Most of the outages are due to high winds, in some areas 45-50 mph sustained, and galloping conductors. Some cross arms have been destroyed, but very few power poles have gone down so far.
Texas Department of Transportation has now closed I-40 at the Oklahoma/Texas State line due to rapidly deteriorating conditions and low visibility due to blowing snow. Travel is strongly discouraged.
Due to extremely low visibility and treacherous conditions caused by blowing snow, ODOT crews in the panhandle counties have been brought back in until visibility improves. Currently, slick and hazardous road conditions are being reported in Woodward, Harper, Ellis and Roger Mills counties, as well as Cimarron, Texas and Beaver counties in the panhandle. Travel is described as "treacherous" from Woodward County toward the west. ODOT crews in northwest and western portions of the state are out clearing and treating roads.
The following roads are closed:
I-40 at the Oklahoma/Texas State line.
US-412 from Ft. Supply (Harper/Woodward County line) through the panhandle
US-64 from Buffalo west through the panhandle.
SH-385 from Boise City south to the Texas state line and north to the Kansas state line
US-56 from Boise City southwest to the New Mexico state line and northwest to the Kansas state line
SH-325 from Boise City west to the New Mexico state line
SH-171 from Keyes south to the Texas state line
US-183 is closed north of Buffalo to Kansas state line.
During snow and ice conditions, motorists are reminded to:
- Stay at least 200 feet behind road clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
- Do not attempt to pass road-clearing equipment.
- Be aware that conditions are continually changing; drive cautiously and for the conditions on the r roadway.
- Allow extra space between vehicles so there is adequate distance for braking in wet and icy conditions.
- Be aware of "black ice" conditions, which looks wet on the roadway but is a thin layer of ice.
- Please be patient, plan trips ahead and allow extra time in reaching destinations.
To check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS call the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety's ROAD CONDITIONS HOTLINE 888-425-2385. For out-of-state road conditions: Texas 800-452-9292 and New Mexico (800) 432-4269
OEM is working with FEMA to secure delivery of industrial size generators that would be used for shelters and to provide power to water treatment facilities in the event of electric service disruptions. This will add to state generators pre-staged in the panhandle.
The American Red Cross has opened shelters at the Methodist Church in Guymon, at Sixth and Quinn, and in Boise City, at 500 E. Main. The shelters are needed primarily for stranded motorists due to blizzard conditions.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health continues to monitor all nursing homes and hospitals in the impacted area. Isolated reports of power outages were received however local health departments were able to handle the situation. Health department personnel will respond with strike teams to the shelter operations being established. County health departments in the Woodward, Beaver, Harper and Texas county areas are closed due to the weather. Personnel are being utilized to assist the community shelters.
Beaver County Emergency Management reports some ice on the ground and power lines. This morning they battled a tank battery fire started by lightning.
Ellis County Emergency Management reports rural power outages reported in northeast part of county.
Enid/Garfield County Emergency Management reports nickel size hail and freezing rain, no accidents and no shelters open. They’re below freezing and in the transition phase going to snow.
Guymon/Texas County Emergency Management reports some icing, but biggest hazard currently is 30-35 mph winds with heavy snow fall. Visibility in some areas is down to one block. Some vehicles have gone off the road. The fire in Hooker is out. A building used for storage was destroyed. No injuries reported.
Harper County Emergency Management reports Buffalo and Laverne received 3 to 4 inches of snow but both areas are also experiencing drifting snow.. Local official remain on standby to open a shelter is necessary.
Major County Emergency Management reports freezing rain in Fairview. One tractor-trailer injury accident and other minor accidents. Also working fires — one tank battery fire started by lightning; the other a grass fire started by local burning.
Woods County Emergency Management reports freezing rain.
Woodward/ Woodward County Emergency Management reports sporadic power outages, one ambulance rolled over while responding to a vehicle rollover, injuries but not severe. Area received a quarter-inch of ice.