Cities all across eastern Oklahoma have been preparing for the winter storm that hit Thursday. The first goal for city crews is to clear streets and highways and keep traffic moving.
The City of Tulsa has 63 trucks with salt spreaders. Forty-five of those have plows. Spotters have fanned out across town all day, keeping tabs on which part of the city gets hit first and hardest. Meanwhile, dispatchers have been waiting for the call to tell them where to send crews to begin clearing snow and ice from city streets.
"Once it starts, whichever way that storm's working, we'll gradually work the trucks out into that area," said Street Maintenance Manager Tim McCorkell.
The city has 35 routes that are the focus in bad weather. McCorkell said there is no one area that trumps another, they just send the trucks to where they're needed most.
"There's probably at least two, sometimes maybe three. It depends on what's out there. If the storms hit in that area really hard, we may have a couple plow trucks, maybe three," McCorkell said.
McCorkell said the city has 14,500 tons of salt at the ready and warns drivers to be aware of hilly roads, like around 61st, 71st, and 81st in the Sheridan and Yale area.
"Some of the hilly arterials we have the most issues with, we try to address them as quickly as possible," McCorkell said.
In Owasso, the city has been busy spreading 1,700 gallons of brine liquid on the roads. It's a precise mixture of 23.3 percent salt and water that prevents snow and ice from freezing on the streets.
"It dries on the pavement. It doesn't cause any hazards to the public and it actually will stay there for at least 48 hours or unless we have a rain event," said Roger Stevens, with Owasso Public Works.
Stevens said city crews will work around the clock to clear roads, focusing on the main streets first and then around hospitals and intersections.
The same goes in Tulsa: arterial streets and streets around schools and hospitals are at the top of the list.
McCorkell asks residents to be patient as city crews work their way around town.
Some of the major northern cities in the U.S. have snow routes, roads dedicated for snow removal first.
McCorkell said that has been talked about here in Tulsa but implementing a program like that in a southern city is harder than most people think, mostly because we don't see much snow during the year.
While the snow is falling, "Operation Slick Streets" is in effect in Tulsa. That means if you have a non-injury accident, you need to exchange insurance information and file your own collision report, instead of calling police.
You can download the collision report form here or pick one up at any Tulsa Quik Trip.
The city has posted an Arterial Streets Map online showing the streets which are the first priority for clearing. A Collector Streets Map is also online with a selection of localized maps showing the streets which are the secondary priority after arterials have been cleared.