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Oklahoma flooding: Threats continue as rain may taper off this afternoon.

Oklahoma City officials tell motorists to stay home.
By Julie Bisbee Modified: June 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm •  Published: June 14, 2010

Officials said motorists should stay home and not underestimate the danger of driving on flooded city streets as flash flood warnings continued for the Oklahoma City area.

Radar showed storms tapering off in northwest Oklahoma County with activity continuing generally along and southeast of I-44. However, rainfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour will continue to be likely until the activity clears the Oklahoma City metro, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported.

Reports of 6 to 8 inches of rain received since the early morning hours are common across the Oklahoma City area with some areas receiving more than 9 inches.

From 4:15 a.m to 12:30 p.m., the Oklahoma City North Mesonet Station received 10.07 inches of rain. The recording device is located on The Oklahoman property near Britton Road and Broadway Extension.

As of 11 a.m., 5.88 inches of rain had fallen at Will Rogers World Airport, setting a daily record for June 14. The previous record was 3.95 inches in 1930.

Emergency response

Emergency Medical Services Authority paramedics responded to 136 emergency calls with 87 patients taken to local hospitals by 2 p.m. today. About half those calls were more than likely unrelated to the weather, spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said.

EMSA medics were involved in 5 water rescues and took one of those people to a local hospital.

Eleven calls came into the 911 center as 'unknown problem' and were determined to be motorists stranded in their cars due to flooding waters. From those calls, four patients were taken to local hospitals. Ten people called 911 complaining of a fall, some related to high water flow, and seven patients were taken to the hospital. Eighteen car crashes around the metro resulted in six patients being taken to the hospital.

Road Conditions

Swift water rescues are underway in some areas of Oklahoma City and travel is discouraged in many regions.

Motorists are urged to obey road closing barricades. It only takes a minimal amount of moving water for cars to be swept away and there may be unseen damage to the road. For information regarding Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385.

"I have never been this scared," Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said. "This is way worse than driving in the ice. The water is so deep. The visibility is so low."

Although the worst flooding was on city streets, highways are also moving slowly, officials said. Capt. Chris West, spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said there is some high water on Interstates in central Oklahoma.

"It's mostly on ramps and off ramps," West said. "Most of the flooding is on the secondary roads. Traffic is slow and we do have some crashes. We don't want anyone driving into high water. Our response times can be affected because we are driving through the same things they are."

In Oklahoma County the following highways are closed due to flooding:

•  U.S. Highway 62 between Sooner Road and Air Depot

•  U.S. Highway 62 between Henney and Choctaw Roads

•  State Highway 66 at Westminster and Anderson

•  Interstate 40 onramp at Council Road.

Downtown Oklahoma City flooded

Yager said the city's stormwater drainage system simply can't keep up with the amount of rain that has fallen in the city in the last few hours. Rainfall totals of as much as 7 inches have been recorded in some parts of the city.

"Downtown is flooded," Yager said. "We have a few traffic lights that are out causing problems. Stalled vehicles are causing problems. Crews are in the same situation that our travelers are in. They are stuck in this traffic as well."

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