Northeast Oklahoma Struggles Under Blanket Of Snow

Thursday, January 20th 2011, 6:33 am
By: News On 6 & Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- City of Tulsa crews will continue to salt city streets Thursday night.

The city has 55 trucks on the roads all over town, many with a snow plow on the front end and a salt spreader on the back.

Tim McCorkell with Public Works says the city prioritizes its routes.

"What we try to do is address the overpasses and bridges and hills first, and then work on the intersections," he said. "Once we get those under control, we'll get the flat areas and the streets."

Erick Ekstrand is one of 150 employees working in 12-hour shifts to help clear the streets.

"Put the salt down and within 5-10 minutes, all the ice should be melted depending on how thick it is," he said.

As of late Thursday afternoon, the city had about 8,000 tons of salt left.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation had salt and sand operations underway especially where highways and bridges are slick and hazardous.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol temporarily closed a section of westbound Interstate 40 in Checotah in McIntosh County after several semis left the roadway, blocking traffic.  They warned that the roadway is ice covered, slick and hazardous.

1/20/2011 Related Story: Icy Conditions Shut Down A Section Of I-40 In Eastern Oklahoma

ODOT says there were more than 40 trucks with 13,000 tons of sand and salt hitting the streets.

A layer of ice was underneath the snow in many areas, and visibility problems were reported due to blowing snow.

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In Tulsa, there were several crashes due to the weather.  One occurred around midnight on the Broken Arrow Expressway near Mingo.  

Tulsa police issued a reminder that using city overpasses for sledding is hazardous and against the law. Citizens can be issued a citation.

Tulsa Police say a Porsche was headed east on the Broken Arrow Expressway when the driver lost control because of the slick roads and started sliding sideways.  The vehicle was hit by another vehicle heading east.  The passengers inside the Porsche were unharmed. 

News On 6 meteorologist Alan Crone says higher snow accumulations were along either side of the U.S. Highway 412 corridor. 

As you go farther north, snow amounts of 3 to 5 inches fell. 

Read Alan Crone's Blog.

Drivers are urged to use caution if travel can not be avoided; bridges and overpasses may be slick, and extra travel time should be planned for the work commute.

During snow and/or ice conditions, motorists are asked to:

  • Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
  • 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.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday for Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Tulsa, Wagoner, Washington, and Rogers counties.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric report about 4,440 power outages in Holdenville and Pauls Valley.  Public Service Company of Oklahoma at one time reported about 750 outages in Hughes and Pittsburg counties early Thursday. As of 11:30, services had been restored.

Closings - other than public schools and churches

The Tulsa County courthouse is open Thursday.  The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says the courthouse will be open its normal hours. The Tulsa Zoo is closed.

The Tulsa County Sheriff, Presiding District Judge and the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners have elected to keep the Tulsa County Courthouse and all offices OPEN today for regular business despite the inclement weather conditions.

The OU Schusterman Center is closed, but OU physician clinics remain open Thursday. There have been no delays or canceled flights at the Tulsa International Airport, but spokesperson Alexis Higgins notes that drivers should give themselves extra time to reach the airport to catch or meet a flight.

The snow and ice caused a number of schools to close on Thursday.

List Of Church And School Closings.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.