Blizzard moves into Oklahoma Panhandle

A blizzard warning is in effect until noon Tuesday for the Oklahoma Panhandle.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: December 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm •  Published: December 19, 2011

Snow began falling across the rest of Cimarron County on Monday afternoon as the blizzard moved east, county Emergency Management Director Cliff White said. It hit Boise City, the county seat about 20 miles southeast of Kenton, just before noon.

“It's not heavy, it's just steady,” White said.

Little accumulation was expected initially, although 2 to 3 inches was predicted to fall through Monday night, he said. But another 6 to 10 inches was expected overnight as the storm intensified, he added. Light flurries are expected Tuesday as the storm dissipates.

Ice had developed on some power lines and tree limbs before rain turned to snow early Monday, but no outages were reported, White said.

“We dodged a bullet there,” he said.

Five counties neighboring the Panhandle were under a winter storm watch with 3 to 6 inches of precipitation forecast.

About 500 trucks statewide are available to remove snow and ice off roads, Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokeswoman Brenda Perry said. Crews also have about 130,000 tons of a salt and sand mixture at their disposal and will work continuous shifts to clear the roads, she said.

“This time of year, we're standing by pretty much all the time,” Perry said. “We have to wait until the precipitation starts falling before we can do much.”

Road and school closings

Snow and sleet falling in the Oklahoma Panhandle is causing roads to become slick, forcing officials to close some highways.

• U.S. 64 westbound out of Guymon is closed due to whiteout conditions.

• U.S. 412 westbound has been closed at the U.S. 83 junction in Bryan's Corner due to road closures out of Texas County.

• U.S. 287 north to Colorado at the request of Baca County, Colo., due to multiple accidents and pileups.

• U.S. 56 westbound out of Boise City, Oklahoma in Cimarron County has been closed at the urgent request of the Clayton Police Department due to blizzard conditions and a humanitarian crisis. Officials said there aren't any motel or hotel rooms available in Clayton and shelters are full.

• U.S. 54 is closed from Guymon in Texas County, west to the Texas state line, at the request of Texas officials, according to the state transportation department.

Sleet and snow falling in Boise City caused officials to dismiss school at noon.

Toni Thornton, administrative assistant at the school, said the area received about one inch of rain Monday morning and it quickly turned to snow.

She said the roads were becoming icy, so they decided to let students out for Christmas break a little early.

In Goodwell, Oklahoma Panhandle State University closed at 1 p.m. Monday and expects to reopen Wednesday.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter in Guymon for anyone needing a place to stay overnight.

The shelter is at Victory Memorial Methodist Church at 523 N Roosevelt in Guymon.

What's next

A blizzard warning remains in effect until noon Tuesday in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Heavy snow and strong north winds will impact the Oklahoma Panhandle and northern and western Texas Panhandle with snowfall accumulations of 4 to 18 inches of snow, according to the weather service.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for Alfalfa, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Roger Mills, Woods and Woodward counties in northern and west central Oklahoma until noon Tuesday due to snow accumulations.

Contributing: Staff Writer Tiffany Gibson, Staff Writer Bryan Painter, Staff Writer Matt Dinger, The Associated Press, Guymon Daily Herald Managing Editor Shawn Yorks, Boise City News Managing Editor C.F. David

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