OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City crews and services are gearing up and taking precautions as a potentially life-threatening winter storm with massive amounts of snow and bone-chilling temperatures approaches Central Oklahoma.
The 4Warn Forecast has the following outlook:
- A 20 percent chance of snow showers with a temperature high of 20 degrees and low of 7 degrees on Saturday;
- A 100 percent chance of blizzards with a high of 9 degrees and a low of -3 degrees on Sunday;
- A 30 percent chance of heavy snow with a high of 6 degrees and a low of -10 degrees on Monday;
- A 40 percent chance of flurries with a high of 10 degrees and a low of 6 degrees of Tuesday;
- A 60 percent chance of heavy snow on Wednesday with a high of 16 degrees and a low of 5 degrees;
- A 20 percent chance of flurries with a high of 18 degrees and low of 5 degrees on Thursday.
Oklahoma City officials said in a Friday news release that street crews will be ready to clear heavy snow accumulations from snow routes.
"City street crews driving 25 trucks with snowplows have been working around the clock clearing snow routes. More significant snow accumulations are expected to begin late Sunday. Crews will continue to salt and plow the City’s snow routes until conditions improve," the news release states.
Crews, however, will not treat neighborhood streets, which are not part of snow routes. Oklahoma City has approximately 8,500 lane miles, approximately 1,800 of which are on snow routes.
"Public Works has 11,000 tons of salt on hand, which is more than needed to treat City streets during this storm," the news release states.
Street crews usually drive about 200 miles in a 12-hour shift during snow events. Four contractors with snow removal equipment will be on call to help plow snow if needed, according to the news release.
City officials advise metro residents to avoid driving during hazardous conditions.
"Those who must drive should have someone to call in case they are stranded. If you get stranded, try to move your car off the road so other vehicles can safely pass," the news release states.
The news release also included info on how various services in the city will adjust to the expected onslaught of winter weather.
EMBARK public transportation has a contingency plan to run buses at reduced service levels equivalent to weekend service, which is at a one-hour frequency on most routes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
"If the contingency plan is activated, customers will be advised by Sunday at 7 p.m. via embarkok.com and social media," the news release states.
Bus transportation will continue to warming centers and shelters, including the Homeless Alliance, a day shelter, the Willard Center, an overnight shelter and the gym at Red Andrews Park, which will be used as a municipal warming center.
"Public Transit is free for any resident needing transportation to a warming center or shelter," the news release states.
Customers of EMBARK Mobility Management Services, which provides transporation for seniors, are advised to call (405) 297-2583 to check if transportation services are available.
Will Rogers World Airport crews will work to maintain airfields, roadways and walkways at the airport. However, flight cancellations and possibly the temporarily closure of flight operations are expected in light of how severe the storm is expected to be.
Flights at Will Rogers are already experiencing delays due to severe winter conditions.
"Airline de-icing is taking additional time, though airline staff and contractors are working as fast as they can to keep flights moving. There have also been brief periods when airport crews have closed runways/taxiways to treat, brush or scrape surfaces," the news release states.
Travelers and visitors are encouraged to frequently check their flight's status before traveling to the airport. Most airlines offer flight updates via mobile app, text notifications or on the airline’s website.
Parks and Recreation
All Parks Department public facilities and Martin Park Nature Center will close on Saturday and reopen Wednesday. Will Rogers Gardens Exhibition Center will close on Sunday and reopen Wednesday. Virtual Academy, which is held at multiple community centers, will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Court sessions are not scheduled on Monday. Call (405) 297-3898 to reschedule if you cannot attend your scheduled court date at any time due to the road conditions or weather.
Utilities - Trash and Recycling Services
Severe weather conditions may impact trash, recycling and bulky collection services. Check okc.gov/ice for a makeup schedule.
EMSA response times may increase because of road conditions. Motorists are urged to move vehicles involved in any weather-related accidents off the road so emergency vehicles can use arterial streets.
"Abandoned vehicles often make roads impassable in significant winter storms," the news release states.
People experiencing Homelessness
Red Andrews Municipal Gym, 720 NW 8, will be open as a daytime warming center from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 through Friday, Feb. 19. Parks and Recreation employees will work at the center.
Homeless residents can also take refuge in the Homeless Alliance's day shelter, 1729 NW 3rd St., which will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"Nobody will be turned away. If the shelter reaches capacity, guests will be transported to another location that will provide backup capacity," the news release states.
The Salvation Army, 1001 N. Pennsylvania Ave., City Rescue Mission, 800 W. California Ave., Jesus House, 1335 W. Sheridan Ave., Grace Rescue Mission, 2205 Exchange Ave., Sisu Youth and Pivot, 201 NE 50th St., also provide overnight shelter, but are either at or near full capacity.
Winter weather tips to help you prepare for the storm:
Stay on snow routes
Give salt trucks space
Keep about 200 feet between your vehicle and salt trucks.
Protect Your Pipes
Open cabinet doors below sinks and let faucets drip if temperatures remain below freezing for a day or more. Call (405) 297-3334 if your pipes burst so City crews can shut off water to your home. Watch this video about protecting your pipes in winter weather.
Keep necessities on-hand
Items for winter storms to add to your disaster kit include additional non-perishable food and water for one or two weeks, extra blankets, coats, gloves, winter hats, and water-resistant boots. Get extra medication, oxygen or other medical supplies if it's possible you'll need a refill before the storm's effects are over.
Turn off sprinklers
Home and business owners are asked to turn off sprinkler systems when the temperature drops below freezing to keep city streets from icing over.
Check on your neighbors
Make sure elderly family members, friends and neighbors are prepared for the storm, and check on them during and after the storm.
Keep your pets safe
If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.
- Towel dry your pet immediately after they come inside, paying attention to their paws and stomach.
- Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
- Dog houses without insulation are not enough to protect dogs from hypothermia. Freezing drinking water also poses a risk to pets.
Power outages Keep your cell phone charged in case of a power outage. Residents can report power outages at www.oge.com
Safely Use Alternative Heating Sources
Fires at home are common in the winter because of improper use of dangerous heating sources. Here are some tips from the Fire Department:
- Make sure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are properly installed in your home. Alarms should be installed inside each sleeping area, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Test your smoke alarms monthly and install fresh batteries twice per year when the time changes.
- Space heaters need space. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn (furniture, bedding, curtains, etc.) Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Keep all combustible materials away from floor furnaces.
- Remove any combustibles from central heater closets.
- Use a metal grate to hold logs inside fireplaces. Use an approved metal or glass screen in front of fireplaces to prevent embers from flying out of the firebox and into the home.
- Ensure the fire in the fireplace is completely extinguished before going to bed.
- Have fireplaces inspected and/or cleaned annually by a qualified chimney sweep specialist.
- Do not place hot fireplace ashes into dumpsters. Place ashes into a sealed metal container and store well away from the home for several days before final disposal.
- Remember to open the damper before lighting the fireplace.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Use portable generators outside and well away from the home. Position so that fumes and deadly carbon monoxide will not enter the home through doors, windows, or vents.
Dress for the conditions.
Dressing in layers is key, as it not only keeps you warm but allows you to adjust to changing temperatures. Proper gloves, socks and footwear are essential. Choose headwear that keeps your head and ears warm. Ski masks can also help to warm your neck and warm the air you’re breathing.
- If possible, avoid driving while streets are covered in ice and snow.
- Have your vehicle winterized by a qualified mechanic.
- Make sure your tires have adequate tread for the conditions.
- Reduce speeds.
- Fill up your gas tank.
- Allow more time to slow down and stop.
- Allow more space between you and the car in front of you.
- Be sure to use your headlights so your car is visible during inclement weather.
- Watch this video with winter driving tips
Winter Weather Vehicle Emergency Preparedness Kit
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Jumper cables
- Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
- Compass and road maps
- Tire repair kit and pump
- Extra clothing to keep dry and gloves
- Sack of sand or cat litter (for tire traction
- Tow rope