Oklahoma bracing for storm’s 2nd wave

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: January 29, 2010 at 5:57 am •  Published: January 29, 2010

State Transportation Department crews reported numerous highway closings because of downed trees and power lines.

Affected areas were in a band from Harmon County in the far southwest part of the state up through the central part of the state to Lincoln County, a department news release said.

Areas near Altus, Lawton, Duncan, Chickasha, Pauls Valley, Purcell and Stroud were most affected. Also, Texas officials reported poor conditions near Stratford, Texas, and requested highways leading from Guymon and Boise City in the Oklahoma Panhandle be closed.

Interstate 35 southbound near Billings was closed for a couple of hours because of a seven-car accident. And the H.E. Bailey Turnpike from Elgin to Chickasha was shut down all afternoon because of downed power lines.

Custer County officials reported several accidents involving tractor-trailers, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol was investigating whether slick roads contributed to an afternoon accident and traffic problems on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike at MacArthur Boulevard.

Oklahoma City crews were salting roads with 24 trucks all day, city officials said. The biggest fear was trucks breaking down, which hampered cleanup efforts in last month’s blizzard.

"As long as nobody breaks down we’ll have 24 trucks out 24 hours,” city spokeswoman Kristy Yager said.

Although the roads started to worsen in the afternoon, the city seemed to dodge the worst of the weather, Yager said. Ground temperatures helped melt freezing rain as it hit the streets.

The first round of the winter storm passed central Oklahoma by sunset, but snow was expected to start falling about dawn, the National Weather Service reported.

"We do have some sleet and snow still occurring in Ponca City, Enid and northeast Oklahoma,” forecaster Christine Riley said Thursday night. "We also have some flurries and sleet in the Hobart and Altus area, and it’s dry in between.”

Starting about 6 a.m. and continuing into the afternoon, forecasters expect snow — with some sleet mixed in — to fall in central and southern Oklahoma.

Some light precipitation is expected into this evening, but accumulation will cease during the day, she said.

Nearly all flights in Oklahoma City were canceled Thursday, and further cancellations are expected today, airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said.

"I’m anticipating that flights, weather permitting, will begin arriving at 8 a.m. and slowly start returning to service,” she said.

Crews began deicing the runways Thursday afternoon. Flight status can be checked on the airport’s Web site, flyokc.com. However, many of Southwest Airlines’ arrivals were showing an on-time status, which wasn’t accurate, Carney said.

Travelers should contact the airline before driving to the airport.

Morning departures from Tulsa International Airport will depend on whether the airlines have an aircraft in place, airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins said.

For more flight information, check the airport Web site at tulsaairports.com.

Contributing writers
Staff Writers

Darla Slipke,

Michael Kimball, Johnny Johnson, Brian Sargent, Bryan Painter,

Bryan Dean, Matt Dinger, Aaron

Crespo, James S.

Tyree, Michael McNutt and Ken Raymond

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