Relief is on the way from this week's bitter cold weather, but it's expected to be Saturday before daytime highs reach above freezing in Oklahoma City.
A donation this week from a leading energy company provided a bit of a break from the cold for some of Oklahoma City's most poverty-stricken residents.
And more moderate weather will be a welcome change for furnace technicians like Joshua Walker, who worked on a rooftop Thursday in 14-degree weather.
“It's very chilling,” Walker said.
“It's miserable for everyone.”
But misery equals business for Walker, who said his phone has been ringing since the last bout of below-freezing weather.
Roughly four out of five calls are for emergencies.
“We don't look forward to people's misfortunes,” Walker said.
“But this is our line of work, and the cold temperatures increase our business.”
Thursday's low at Will Rogers World Airport was 9 degrees at 8:35 a.m., about an hour after sunrise, said Jonathan Kurtz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman.
The weather service measured 3 inches of snow at the airport by Thursday morning. The mercury made it to 18 Thursday afternoon.
While temperatures early Friday were expected to drop to 10, winds were expected to lose some of their bite and begin blowing from the south.
Friday's high should be 26, with no snow.
Still, Friday likely was to be the third consecutive day of below-freezing afternoon highs in the city.
Highs Saturday were expected to hit the upper 30s. Forecasters, though, said to look for a weather system to push more cold air into central Oklahoma early next week.
A snowplow tangled with a car Thursday morning in Oklahoma City as crews worked to clear snow and ice from the city's snow routes.
Nobody was hurt in the accident, which occurred at NW 13 and Shartel Avenue.
The city had 30 trucks out plowing streets and spreading salt, with crews working 12-hour shifts, city spokeswoman Kristy Yager said.
The city buys its salt — at $68 per ton — from a supplier in Hutchinson, Kan. Trucks were headed south with more salt to replenish the city's supplies.
In Edmond, a police officer's car was rear-ended on a snow-covered street by a car going too fast for conditions, said Jennifer Monroe, a police spokeswoman. No one was injured.
Despite the cold weather, advocates for the homeless said there still was space in shelters.
That didn't necessarily mean people without a place to live were just toughing it out.
Dan Straughan, executive director of the Homeless Alliance, said those living on the streets generally have a little easier go of it early in the month.
“People still have money from their Social Security and veterans benefit checks so they can afford a place to stay,” Straughan said.
“If this had happened at the end of February, I think we would have had a lot more people needing shelter,” he said.
The Salvation Army, Grace Rescue Mission and Jesus House filled their regular beds but had overflow space available Thursday. City Rescue Mission, the city's largest homeless shelter, had regular beds and overflow space, Straughan said.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. donated 3,000 hand warmers to the Homeless Alliance to hand out to those in shelters and out in the cold.
“We've been handing them out left and right all week,” Straughan said.
Walker, owner Excel Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning in Edmond, said electrical and mechanical parts wear more quickly when furnaces work overtime. Repairs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, he said.
“Change your filters as much as possible,” Walker said. “That will also make the unit more efficient, and it will cause less wear and tear.”
But call a professional before attempting to fix a broken furnace, he said. Tinkering with furnaces without proper training and equipment can be dangerous because they rely on either combustible gas or on electricity.
So Walker had a smile at 2:30 p.m. as he checked a rooftop furnace at a northwest Oklahoma City shopping center. Walker worked in a thick brown coat and pants that hid thermal underwear.
“I enjoy my job; that's why I'm still doing it,” Walker said. “I like being able to fix things.”
EMSA reported its paramedics responded to eight car crashes with injury, two slips and falls, and one reported cold exposure between midnight and 11 a.m.
Airports spokeswoman Karen Carney said there were no flight cancellations in or out of Will Rogers. Some delays were caused by winter weather in other states, and some Oklahoma City flights were late taking off because planes had to be de-iced. Delays ranged from 15 minutes to two hours, Carney said.
Schools were closed Thursday in Oklahoma City and surrounding districts, including Deer Creek, Mustang, Edmond, Moore, Norman and Yukon.
Many metro-area districts called off classes for Friday, including Moore, Norman and Edmond. Oklahoma City schools were to be closed for parent-teacher conferences.
Staff Writers Diana Baldwin, Kyle Fredrickson and Jonathan Sutton