Snowstorm Threat Wanes On Plains

Saturday, December 15th 2007, 9:38 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma residents were mostly spared a threatened second wintry blast on Saturday, as crews were still working to restore power to homes and businesses blacked out by last weekend's storm.

However, the latest storm's northward shift as it moved east meant the brunt of the bad weather was passing through Kansas and Missouri where, along with Oklahoma, hundreds of thousands of people were still in the dark.

The National Weather Service canceled heavy snow warnings for Oklahoma early Saturday. In the central part of the state, the system brought only cold, light rain during the night instead of the 2 to 4 inches of snow that had been forecast.

Last weekend's storm coated much of the Plains with ice before dumping snow on the Northeast. It killed at least 38 people, mostly in traffic accidents, including 23 in Oklahoma alone.

At its height, a million customers in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri were blacked out. Crews worked Friday to restore power to 280,000 homes and businesses that were still in the dark, but the latest storm could complicate those efforts.

Bill Weaver, a Tulsa resident who moved here two years ago to escape hurricane-battered New Orleans, waited in his frigid home Friday for the electricity to be turned back on, deadpanning: ``So, here we are.''

He had two gas-log fireplaces going, warming about a third of his home.

``It doesn't keep the showers warm,'' Weaver said. ``It's cold baths.''

The latest storm was expected to dump heavy snow on parts of the Plains before tapering off late Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

The first storm changed from ice to snow as it blew into the Northeast, dumping 2 inches to a foot across the region and catching many municipalities by surprise, even after it wreaked havoc to the west.

Some commuters in Boston spent eight hours driving home Thursday evening, and public school buses were still dropping off students at 11 p.m.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick defended the state's storm response Friday after meeting with public safety, transportation and emergency officials.

``People were asked to leave early, and they didn't,'' Patrick said. ``What would have helped, I think in this case, would have been a more uniform early release.''

As the snow fell, traffic on Rhode Island highways backed up past the Massachusetts state line, and about 300 vehicles got stuck or collided with others.

Providence Mayor David Cicilline ordered an investigation into why dozens of school buses got stranded on city streets.