Ice Storm Warning Issued For Eastern Oklahoma

Friday, December 20th 2013, 7:28 am
By: News On 6

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TULSA, Okla. -- An ice storm warning has been issued for Tulsa County and surrounding locations through Saturday at 6 p.m. 

Freezing rain continues Saturday morning. In the metro Tulsa area, most roads are just wet, but drivers are urged to use caution. Elevated surfaces are covered with a sheet of ice, so there is a high danger of falls.

By early Friday evening, ice was moving into the Oklahoma City metro area. Multiple-vehicle pileups, including a fatal wreck in Bethany, caused traffic to remain at a crawl. Portions of Interstate 40 and Interstate 35 were even shut down because of icy bridges, but since have been reopened.

12/20/2013 Related Story: Multiple Crashes Reported As Ice Rains Down On OKC Metro

By 10 p.m., areas near Tulsa were experiencing freezing rain as temps plummeted and the precipitation began to stick to surfaces. In the late evening hours and into overnight, accumulation on bridges is the main concern.

The bridges are the first thing to glaze over and turn Interstates into skating rinks. The cold air that breezes underneath the underpasses helps freeze the rain that accumulates on top of the bridge decks. At U.S. Highway 75 and Interstate 44 about 10 p.m. on Friday, the bridge was becoming hazardous to drivers and causing drivers to slide.

The WARN Team is especially worried about the construction zone across the Arkansas River on Interstate 244.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation estimates more than 900,000 people area expected to be traveling through Oklahoma the weekend before Christmas, but the agency has discouraged against travel Friday and Saturday, especially north and west of Tulsa.

"Initially, road surfaces will be too warm to freeze over. It's those elevated surfaces like bridges, trees, and power lines that may quickly ice over and become weighed down," News On 6 meteorologist Mike Grogan said in his weather blog. "Trees and power lines may suffer damage and power outages will become increasingly likely into Saturday morning."

The National Weather Service has upgraded the winter storm watch to an ice storm warning that is in effect from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday. Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice is possible along and north of Interstate 44 including Tulsa, according to the NWS.

12/20/2013 Related Story: Power Crews Brace For Green Country Ice Storm

PSO and area electric cooperatives are on standby for expected power outages in Tulsa. The first outages in the state were reported in Enid, as more than 2,000 people were in the dark at 9 .am.

The precipitation could change to rain on Saturday as it warms up, but it is expected to change back to snow late Saturday afternoon through Saturday night.

The National Weather Service has issued an Ice Storm Warning for most of eastern Oklahoma until Saturday evening. Counties included in the warning include Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Pittsburg, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties in Oklahoma.

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"I would expect some slick and hazardous roadways from late [Friday] into Saturday morning with the greater impacts likely on trees and power lines," Grogan said.

There is also a Flash Flood Watch for Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, Pittsburg and Sequoyah counties late Friday into Saturday afternoon.

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