Monday, December 10, 2007

oklahoma road conditions

OKLAHOMA CITY � A winter storm moved across Oklahoma on Sunday, leaving a thin layer of ice on the ground and creating power outages for thousands as a prelude to even worse conditions expected to develop overnight.

The highest accumulations of ice were reported at a half-inch in Miami and Bartlesville in northeastern Oklahoma and one-third of an inch in the eastern Oklahoma City suburb of Midwest City, and more pockets of freezing rain were still moving through the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Roads in all but the southeastern portion of the state were considered slick and hazardous by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and at least two deaths had already been attributed to the conditions.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said 58-year-old Aruna Patel of Altus was riding in a pickup truck that hit a patch of ice and slid into a bridge railing on U.S. Highway 62 in Tillman County early Sunday morning before a sport utility vehicle came along and broadsided the truck. Patel died later Sunday morning at a hospital, the patrol said.

Michele C. McDaniel of Elk City was killed in another crash involving a pickup truck on an icy road, this time in Beckham County. The highway patrol said McDaniel, 44, was partially ejected from a truck driven by her husband when it ran off the side of Interstate 40 and rolled one and a half times.

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma reported about 29,400 customers without power � including about 22,500 in the Tulsa area � while Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., which had nearly 7,000 customers without power at one point, counted about 4,800 customers without electricity by Sunday afternoon. Most of OG&E's outages were in Oklahoma City and the eastern suburb of Midwest City.

And that was only a preview of what was expected in the storm's second round. Another batch of ice was expected to move northward into the state overnight and continue dropping freezing rain into Monday. Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice was expected in some areas.

"Tomorrow may be even more of a dilemma than today because we're going to get even a little bit more colder," John Pike, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Norman office, said Sunday.

The storm brought the cancellation of many church services, and Oklahoma State University also called off its football practice in Stillwater.

"Tomorrow morning's commute may be a little difficult, and I think schools will have to consider if they're going to hold classes or not for tomorrow. It's possible you could see a lot of cancellations," Pike said.

Pike said the most severe weather for Monday was expected along a line from Stillwater to Altus that would run directly through the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Slightly warmer temperatures were expected to melt some of the ice Tuesday, although rain remains in the forecast Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meteorologist Ray Sondat in the service's Tulsa office said temperatures in northeastern Oklahoma could reach into the upper 30s and even beyond 40 degrees in some areas Tuesday.

"I guess what we have to do is just get through to Tuesday," Pike said. "It probably wouldn't be a bad idea if people ... would maybe prepare not to go out anywhere Monday, depending on how bad it is."
Lincoln County - SH-18 just 1/2 mile south of Chandler is currently closed due to fallen trees.

Tulsa County - East and westbound US-64 is blocked at 129th West Ave due to a power pole and line covering the road.

This morning, crews in the Oklahoma City metro continue plowing slush accumulations off the roadways and applying salt and sand as temperatures remain below freezing. Areas in western Oklahoma County and Canadian County are extremely slick at this time and presenting more of a problem due to heavier precipitation received overnight. In the Tulsa area, crews are also salting and sanding and addressing slick spots. Downed power lines and fallen trees are prevalent and are posing problems for crews.

Statewide, weather and road conditions are continually being monitored as temperatures remain below freezing and following storms through the night. As the storm contines, crews will be applying materials on all highways and interstates and plowing sleet off the roadways as necessary as conditions are continually changing. Westbound I-40 west of the OKC metro area is still reporting slick spots, crews are out.

Motorists are reminded to be cautious of "black ice" which looks wet on the roadway but is a thin layer of ice. Working around-the-clock, crews have been out all night addressing these issues and prepraring roads for the morning drive.We ask everyone to please be patient, plan ahead and to allow extra time in the morning to reach your destination.

We ask those that have to drive, to take it very slow and stay at least 200 feet behind road clearing equipment. These crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading equipment without notice.

To check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS call the Dept. of Public Safety's


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