Weather Situation Update

Situation Update
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 5
February 3, 2011 – 3:30 p.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
Office 405-521-2481; Mobile 405-205-1879

OKLAHOMA IMPACTED BY SEVERE WINTER STORM

The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is at Level One activation. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff has returned to regular hours while maintaining 24-hour contact with emergency managers in the areas still affected by the winter storm through the duty officer.

President Barrack Obama has approved in part Gov. Mary Fallin’s request for an emergency declaration covering all 77 Oklahoma counties. The emergency declaration authorizes federal resources to assist state and local governments as they continue to respond to the severe winter storm.

The declaration does not cover the Governor’s request for state and local emergency response costs. However, once the actual response costs are compiled the state can request the declaration be amended to include further reimbursement.

Oklahoma remains under a State of Emergency, as declared by Gov. Fallin on Monday. The State of Emergency marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance, should it be necessary. Additionally, the executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster public assistance program as conditions warrant.

Some government offices, schools and businesses remained closed today due hazardous road conditions.

FATALITIES AND INJURIES

Four fatalities are attributed to the winter storm, according to the Oklahoma Office of the State Medical Examiner and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

A 20-year-old Moore woman died Tuesday following a sledding accident. Cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma to the head. 

Three people died this morning after the vehicle they were occupants in went off the Spring River Bridge on the Will Rogers Turnpike. Five other occupants in the vehicle were injured in the crash.  

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports troopers have worked 139 storm related crashes, including 10 involving injury since the storm began. OHP also responded to 462 motorist assist calls.

Troopers also assisted the American Red Cross with three emergency blood transports in the Tulsa area.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 77 falls, 4 carbon monoxide poisonings, 24 transportation related accidents, two exposure cases, 13 cut/pierce injuries and 5 injuries involving a person struck by or against an object related to the storm.

WEATHER CONDITIONS

Temperatures remain cold through Friday with a slight warm up over the weekend. Arctic air returns to the State on Monday. There is a slight chance of snow late this weekend with limited impacts. A more significant system is possible next which may impact next week.

ROAD CONDITIONS

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports all roads in northeast Oklahoma remain snow and ice covered and extremely slick and hazardous. Travel is being discouraged.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports frigid temperatures continue to create slick and hazardous roadway conditions in middle and eastern regions of the state. While around the clock clearance operations by ODOT crews are making some progress, travel is still discouraged at this time, particularly in the hard-hit northeastern counties.  

Weather-related closures are reported in the following locations:

  • US-270 between Geary and Calumet in Canadian County
  • SH-152 between Mustang and Union City in Canadian County
  • SH-28 near Chelsea in Nowata County

Other highways could be impacted by shorter-term, accident-related closures. In particular, drivers on I-40 near Henryetta should be prepared for lengthy delays due to slick, hilly conditions. However, such closures are reported across the middle and eastern parts of the state. Drivers should be particularly cautious in hilly areas and near underpasses or other shaded areas.

Additional ODOT crews from western parts of the state have been moved to metro areas to assist with clearance efforts. Work is expected to continue for several days to return highways to good conditions.

Statewide, as ODOT crews clear highways and ramps, they are attempting to move stalled vehicles that are in the way of operations to the side of the road. In situations where ODOT crews are unable to move them, they are asking for help from law enforcement. Many drivers have begun to move their vehicles; those who are aware their vehicles are still in the way should work to remove them during daylight hours for their safety. Drivers whose vehicles are not in the way should continue to contact law enforcement with any questions relating to vehicle recovery.

In the next few days, before making travel plans, 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.

For information regarding Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385. For the latest conditions on Oklahoma Turnpikes, call 1-877-403-7623. For road conditions in neighboring states call: Texas, 800-452-9292; Kansas, 866-511-5368; Arkansas, 800-245-1672; Colorado 303-639-1111; New Mexico 800-432-4269; and Missouri, 800-222-6400.

MASS CARE

There are no shelters or warming stations open at this time. Wednesday night 13 people stayed at the two shelters operated by the American Red Cross in Lawton and Miami.  

PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT

Oklahoma’s price gouging statute is in effect in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties due to the State of Emergency. The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a State of Emergency has been declared. Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.

HEALTH SERVICES

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) urged caution this morning as more Oklahomans venture outside in an effort to return to their normal routines. Winter storm related injuries reported at hospitals throughout the state for the last 24 hours total 149, with 100 of those injuries recorded as slips and falls. Clearing porches, sidewalks and vehicles of ice and snow could be treacherous. Persons should carry a full-charged cell phone in case they need to summon help. In addition, exposure to the state’s extremely cold temperatures can pose the opportunity for frostbite, hypothermia and even death, with infants and elderly most at risk. Oklahomans who are not used to prolonged cold may not be as prepared as they should be to dress in layers, wear hats and gloves and assure all exposed skin is covered. While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 F.

The OSDH also warns Oklahomans not to skate, slide, or sled on frozen ponds, creeks, rivers, or lakes. Although the water appears to be frozen, it may not be solid enough to support the weight of a person. Temperatures in Oklahoma are never cold enough to completely freeze recreational water. Finally, remember that overexertion, such a shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.

DIAL 211

For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone. Please only call 911 for emergencies.