Road Crews In Osage County, Bartlesville Brace For Blizzard Conditions

Monday, February 25th 2013, 6:35 pm
By: Craig Day

The worst of the winter weather expected for Green Country Monday night should be north of Tulsa, in Osage and Washington Counties.

It rained steadily throughout the day and strong wind gusts made it miserable for anyone that had to be outside Monday. Road crews there were hoping for the best for Monday night, but they were preparing for the worst.

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The area was under a blizzard warning Monday afternoon. ODOT road crews were getting ready, loading trucks with sand and double checking plows.

"Checking all our plow bolts and blades, need to make sure everything's going to work all right," said ODOT worker Tom Minney.

State highway crews in the area have more than 400 lane miles of highway to treat and clear.

Snow is one thing, but blowing snow is another.

"Wind gets to blowing that snow up over the top of these plows, all right back up on the windshield. It makes it about twice as hard as just trying to drive through it," Minney said.

A blizzard is a severe snowstorm with winds of 35 miles per hour for several hours. With gusts of 55 miles per hour expected, drifting is a big concern for road crews.

"The biggest concern is drifting the road shut. It depends on the snow—if it's wet, it'll be just fine, it gets a dry powdery mix; we could open them and they could close right back up, right behind us," said Osage County Road Supervisor Jerry Howerton. "It's double work and double time."

Howerton said their equipment and supplies are ready to treat county roads. They have 300 tons of half inch chips mixed with salt available.

"The best we can hope for is to stay after it and keep them open the best we can for the public.

Both county and state crews will work extended hours around the clock, while hoping the storm isn't as bad as predicted, but preparing for the likelihood that it will be.

2/25/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma Highway Patrol Closes Highways In Panhandle, NW OK

In Bartlesville, road crews were already hard at work Monday morning. The trucks were prepped and the drivers were all set to go.

"Getting ready to take care of it, you know, and see what we can do. We'll do everything that needs done to keep people safe," said Matt Hughes.

Hughes is one of seven City of Bartlesville snow plow drivers, who will be behind the wheel when the snow starts to fall. The snow plows and sand trucks will cover close to 350 miles of Bartlesville's city streets.

They'll hit the bridges and overpasses first, then the main roads, with a mixture of 30 percent salt, to help melt the ice, and 70 percent sand, to help with traction. The city uses two road graters to the downtown streets.

The rain is not expected to turn to snow in Bartlesville until late Monday night.

"Typically, if it hits at night, it works better for us. It gives us time to get out and kind of get ahead of it a little bit before the traffic gets on it in the morning," said Public Works Director Keith Henry.

We also found ODOT trucks at the ready. The state will help clear Highway 75 and Highway 60 in Bartlesville.

With such strong winds, there's always the possibility for downed power lines, as well, so electric utility companies will be on the lookout for that to happen in the overnight hours.