Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 2
January 31, 2011 – 9:30 p.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
WINTER STORM TO IMPACT STATE
Due to the approaching winter storm, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains activated and officials with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) continue to work with numerous emergency response, recovery partners as they prepare for the advancing storm.
Oklahoma remains under a State of Emergency, as declared by Gov. Mary Fallin.
The State of Emergency marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance, should it be necessary. Additionally, the executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions.
The declaration provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster public assistance program as conditions warrant.
All state offices in Canadian, Cleveland, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties will be closed on Tuesday. Numerous schools and businesses throughout the state have also announced they will be closed on Tuesday.
A winter storm remains poised to impact the state tonight through Wednesday. Widespread significant accumulations of snow and sleet are likely across central and eastern Oklahoma with some forecasts calling for upwards of 8 to 12 inches of snow in the northeast. Other areas will experience lesser amounts of winter precipitation. Strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures the next few days will create dangerous travel and exposure conditions. This afternoon a blizzard warning was posted for central and northeast sections of the state.
ODOT crews report heavy but intermittent snow in the Panhandle with varied ground cover and slickness. Elsewhere, crews continue to monitor conditions.
For information regarding Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385. For the latest conditions on Oklahoma Turnpikes, call 1-877-403-7623. For road conditions in neighboring states call: Texas, 800-452-9292; Kansas, 866-511-5368; Arkansas, 800-245-1672; and Missouri, 800-222-6400.
OKLAHOMANS URGED TO AVOID TRAVEL
Oklahomans are urged to avoid travel once the storm arrives. If travel is unavoidable, make sure you let someone know where you are going and the route you are taking and be sure to have the following items with you in your vehicle.
• A cell phone with charger and a battery powered radio.
• Windshield scraper, deicer, snow shovel and small broom for ice and snow removal.
• Several blankets or sleeping bags.
• Rain gear, warm coats and extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks and a cap.
• Non-perishable snacks like dried fruit, nuts and other high energy “munchies.”
• Several bottles of water. Eating snow will lower your body temperature so melt it first.
• Sand or cat litter for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains.
• Jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit and brightly colored cloth to tie to antenna if you get stranded.
The Salvation Army reports they are on standby to assist any necessary mass care operations. Additionally, all Salvation Army centers are ready to accommodate the increased number of clients expected to seek shelter.
The American Red Cross has prepositioned supplies throughout the state in order to open shelters in the event there are mass power outages and/or stranded travelers. Transportation to such facilities may present some challenges due to expected road conditions. The American Red Cross is encouraging the public to shelter in place if possible.
Tulsa American Red Cross reports they have opened warming stations for travelers who may become stranded by the storm in the following locations:
Bristow -- First Baptist Church, Sixth & Chestnut
Broken Arrow -- Indian Springs Baptist Church, 7815 S. Elm Place
Claremore -- North Park Trinity Baptist Church, 2999 N. Sioux
Henryetta -- Church of Christ, 413 W. Broadway
McAlester -- Main & Oklahoma Church of Christ, South Business 69
Miami -- First Christian Church, 2424 N. Main
Muskogee -- First United Methodist Church, 600 E. Okmulgee Street
Okemah -- First Baptist Church, 120 S. 6th
Tulsa -- Crosstown Church of Christ, 3400 E. Admiral Place
Vinita -- Family Praise Center, 330 W. Dwain Willis Ave.
Warner -- First Baptist Church, 810 N. 2nd Ave
If shelter needs arise in the Oklahoma City metro area Red Cross and emergency management officials will work closely to determine where these locations should be. Media will also be notified if it is determined shelters will be required so they can assist with passing along site locations and details to the public.
Nearly all of Tuesday morning’s flights out of Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City have been cancelled in anticipation of the impending snowstorm and accompanying high winds. American, Continental, Delta and Southwest have cancelled all departures through mid-morning and are tentatively expecting the first arrivals around 10:30 am. Airlines are encouraging travelers to rebook their flight until later in the week, even into next week, as this storm will continue to work its way to the east and other airports will be impacted. Because of the morning cancellations and the potentially hazardous road conditions, the airport is telling people not come to the airport until they have confirmed that their flight is scheduled.
Over the weekend OEM secured from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) industrial size generators along with bottled water, MREs (meals ready to eat), cots and blankets. The resources are available for use in shelters opened due to stranded motorists or power outages. The generators will also be used to provide power to water treatment plants in the event of electric service disruptions. The FEMA generators will augment the industrial size generators OEM already has positioned around the state. Please note these generators are NOT for residential use.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has activated its Situation Room. A winter weather warning has gone out to all healthcare facilities that are on stand-by in case they are needed. Emergency Medical System personnel across the state are currently monitoring the situation and will update Public Health when the storm arrives. Currently several county health departments are scheduled to be closed tomorrow due to the inclement weather.
Comanche County Emergency Management reports local fire departments working six grass fires caused by lightning. Roads are very slick due to sleet falling for the last 45 minutes. Travel is discouraged unless absolutely necessary. No state assistance requested at this time.
Grady County Emergency Management reports thunder sleet on the south edge of Chickasha.
WINTER WEATHER PREPAREDNESS TIPS
As the storm moves through the state, it’s important to remember these additional winter weather preparedness tips.
Have A Plan:
• Understand the hazards of wind chill. Cold temperatures are even more dangerous, and potentially deadly, when combined with strong winds. The lower the temperature and stronger the wind, the more at risk you are.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly. Make sure they are prepared.
• Plan to bring pets inside during winter weather. Move livestock to sheltered areas with
non-frozen drinking water.
• Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing
• Know what National Weather Service winter storm and blizzard watches and warnings mean.
• A winter storm watch is a message indicating a winter storm is possible in your area.
• A winter storm warning indicates a winter storm is occurring winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area and could threaten life and property.
• A blizzard warning means sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater and considerable falling or blowing snow is expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
• Depend on your NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio, along with local radio and television stations, for weather reports.
Situation Updates are posted at www.oem.ok.gov
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Next Situation Update: As conditions warrant