Gov. Mary Fallin is scheduled to give a status report on the winter emergency situation at noon today at the state Emergency Operations Center at the Capitol.
Dangerously low temperatures have kept Oklahoma in a deep freeze, though the blizzard that struck Tuesday has moved out of the state.
The temperature in Oklahoma City at 11:30 a.m. today was 9 degrees. The high temperature is expected to be in the low teens, the National Weather Service reports
Many people were stranded in their cars on the turnpikes and interstates Tuesday night as they got stuck in snowdrifts. Oklahoma National Guardsmen and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers helped rescue travelers stuck in their cars.
Lt. Col Max Moss, a spokesman for the National Guard, said soldiers have helped 132 people stuck in 82 vehicles since yesterday, many of them overnight.
About 160 soldiers and 50 Humvees and light trucks were used to search for stranded motorists.
“We had groups of two-man teams each in two Humvees,” Moss said. “They would go up and down the turnpike as well as the interstate looking for folks who needed help.”
When the soldiers found people, they took them either to shelters or someplace where friends or relatives could meet them and take them somewhere safe and warm, Moss said.
“That is actually continuing this morning on the Will Rogers Turnpike from Tulsa east to the state line,” Moss said. “We are on standby for the rest of the state waiting to see where we're needed.”
The danger of frostbite, frozen pipes that could burst and hypothermia lingers with the state's winter blast of Arctic air.
People in Oklahoma City are digging out from a foot or more of snow. Roads remain icy and snow-packed. Tow truck drivers remain busy pulling vehicles from snowdrifts.
Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing until Friday.
There are 11 shelters and warming stations open, offered by the Red Cross, Salvation Army and communities. They housed 92 overnight occupants. The locations are Bristow, Pryor, Adair, Okemah, Vinita, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Henryetta, Miami, Muskogee and Lawton.
The state Health Department reports at least 123 winter storm-related injuries treated at hospitals throughout the state. Of that number, 77 injuries resulted from falls. Many of the most severe winter weather injuries occur from slips and falls, including simple activities such as checking the mailbox, according to a news release.
The health department urges caution, especially since thawing and refreezing of ice and snow will likely continue for several days. People who have poor balance should avoid ice and snow altogether. When venturing outdoors, be sure to take a fully charged cell phone with you in case you need to summon help, the release states.
Of additional concern is prolonged exposure to the extreme cold temperatures forecast for the next two days. Frostbite, hypothermia and even death can result from exposure to cold, with infants and the elderly most at risk. When outdoors, wear layered clothing, a hat and gloves and cover all exposed skin to prevent frostbite. While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 degrees.
The health department 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.
Also, people should remember that overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
The weather has affected newspaper delivery in northeast Oklahoma.
Citing the continued safety of more than 700 newspaper haulers and carriers, the Tulsa World announced this morning it would continue to publish only its electronic editions until at least Saturday.
“After talking with transportation authorities and emergency personnel in our delivery areas, we believe it would be irresponsible to put that many vehicles out on the roads in the continued dangerous conditions,” said World Publisher Robert E. Lorton III. “The safety of our community is our biggest concern.”
Lorton said the Tulsa World would continue publishing breaking news and information on tulsaworld.com and on smart-phone applications. The Tulsa World's e-edition, which requires a separate subscription, will continue to be offered free to all readers on tulsaworld.com.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for us. We have dedicated employees and contract carriers who want nothing more than to publish as usual our print edition and to get it to subscribers and readers.
“But we believe that it is simply not possible in the current conditions,” Lorton said.
The Oklahoma City forecast from the National Weather Service is as follows:
Today: Patchy blowing snow. Partly sunny with a high near 13. Wind chill values as low as minus 16. North, northwest wind between 11 and 21 mph.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with a low around zero. Wind chill values as low as minus 12. North, northwest wind between 7 and 11 mph.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 18. Wind chill values as low as minus 13. Northwest wind 5 to 7 mph becoming south, southwest.
Thursday night: Mostly clear with a low around 6. South, southwest wind around 6 mph.
Friday: Sunny with a high near 31. Southwest wind between 6 and 11 mph.
Friday night: Mostly clear with a low around 24.
Saturday: Partly sunny with a high near 47.
Saturday night: A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy with a low around 28.
Sunday: A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy with a high near 47.
Sunday night: A slight chance of rain and snow. Cloudy with a low around 24. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent
Monday: A 30 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy with a high near 32.
Monday night: Scattered flurries. Partly cloudy with a low around 14.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny with a high near 28.
CONTRIBUTING: Sonya Colberg