HOW MUCH snow does it take to close public schools, universities, some businesses and many state agencies? About 3 inches.
That's how much snowfall the Oklahoma City metro area received by early Friday before the storm passed through, according to the National Weather Service.
A city fleet of trucks dumped a salty mix on streets and plowed some, but many motorists who did venture out found slippery conditions.
A statewide emergency declaration remained in place Friday.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order Thursday declaring a 30-day state of emergency in all 77 counties in Oklahoma.
The declaration allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief, and also represents a first step toward seeking federal disaster assistance, if necessary.
Snowy and icy conditions contributed to at least two deaths statewide.
A 5-year-old boy died in Muskogee when his mother lost control of her van, and an unidentified homeless man was found dead under a highway overpass in Oklahoma City.
State offices were operating with skeleton crews in Oklahoma County and elsewhere. Department of Human Services offices in 52 counties were closed or operated on reduced services, and Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma canceled classes.
Oklahoma Blood Institute officials declared a “blood emergency” Friday, saying the wintry conditions caused travel difficulties, leading to declines in blood donations and blood drive cancellations.
“Thursday, we had more than 450 fewer donors than planned across the state,” institute President Richard Armitage said in a statement. “With a typical supply of three to five days, it only takes a storm like this to put us into an emergency status.”
Dealing with the aftermath
Michael Scotten, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Norman, said the Oklahoma City metro area saw 3 to 4 inches of snow Thursday and Friday morning. Cold temperatures will continue through the weekend, with highs in the teens and 20s on Saturday and Sunday, Scotten said.
City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said 27 trucks were working to clear the city's streets, but plowing is a slow process. A truck spreading salt or sand generally can cover about 200 miles of road in a 12-hour shift, she said. But once plowing begins, progress slows.
“You just cannot plow as fast as you can salt,” she said.
Lara O'Leary, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Medical Services Authority, said calls to the ambulance service would have been higher if more people had ventured out Friday morning.
Between noon Thursday and 5:30 p.m. Friday, EMSA personnel responded to 25 motor vehicle crashes and 11 falls on the ground, a fall from a roof and two cases of exposure to the cold.
Meals might not be delivered
Lance Robertson, director of the Department of Human Services' aging division, said his offices closed at noon Friday, and the county DHS centers closed at 10 a.m.
Robertson said many aging assistance organizations in the metro area are closed, but some tried to provide services, weather permitting.
“I think the reality of it is our service system is also doing all it can, but we can't give any assurance that meals will be delivered today,” Robertson said. “If it can be done, they're going to try to do it.”
• About 4,000 homes and businesses lost power, mainly in Choctaw and Pushmataha counties.
• In Altus, the weather halted the excavation of remains believed to be a homicide victim missing for a dozen years, district attorney John Wampler said.
Authorities took Garland Paul Allen, 49, of Texas, to Jackson County on Wednesday to face second-degree murder charge in the 2001 disappearance of his ex-wife, Tracy Allen. Allen led authorities to a rural spot in Kiowa County on Wednesday where his ex-wife's body is thought to be buried.
“They began the process and got far enough to discover what they believe is a grave containing human remains,” Wampler said. “Because of the weather, the recovery of the remains was halted.”
Contributing: Staff Writers Graham Brewer,
Juliana Keeping and Bryan Painter