Oklahoma Prepares for Another Winter Storm
OKLAHOMA CITY – A significant winter storm is in the forecast for Oklahoma.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Thursday covering almost the entire state.
The storm track shows similarities to the 2009 Christmas Eve blizzard and the December 2007 ice storm, according to the NEWS 9 Weather Team.
The winter weather is expected to roll into the state on Thursday morning as rain and freezing drizzle.
The storm will likely move into central Oklahoma on Thursday and move out Friday.
The major threat for northwestern Oklahoma is snow.
A round of freezing rain, sleet and then snow is expected along the Interstate 44 corridor.
Freezing rain is expected for the southeastern part of the state.
The storm presents a serious potential for school closings, hazardous roads and power outages.
Governor Brad Henry said he his hoping the winter storm heading to Oklahoma will fizzle out, but in the meantime he said state agencies must prepare for the worst. He is already urging Oklahomans to stay at home and not drive on Thursday if at all possible.
The worst case storm scenario would not be snow, but freezing rain and ice. In December 2007 central Oklahoma experienced the ice storm of the century. It knocked out electricity to 300,000 OG&E customers--an all-time record.
It may not be that bad this time around, but OG&E is taking no chances.
"We'll begin visiting with other utilities in the region to understand what resources may be available to help restore power in the event that we have widespread damage," Brian Alford with OG&E said.
Last month's Christmas Eve snow storm caused fewer outages, but it did blanket state highways, even closing the interstates for a time. The Department of Transportation spent $4 million getting them open again.
ODOT has now replenished its stocks and supplies, and it has almost 70,000 tons of salt and sand mixture ready to go. The supplies are ready. So are the crews.
"They've been working the last couple of days, getting their trucks ready, making sure that they're good to go, checking fluid levels, whatever needs to be done," David Meuser with ODOT said.
And state officials are seeking outside help for life-saving supplies.
"I've requested that the federal government pre-deploy two 50 packs of federal generators, one 50 pack in the Oklahoma City area, one in the McAlester area," said Albert Ashwood, Director of Oklahoma Emergency Management. "We have also asked for additional bottled water to be in those two locations that can be distributed after the storms."
Meanwhile, Oklahomans are doing what they can to get ready for the next round of winter.
Oklahomans are invading hardware and groceries stores before the winter weather mix invades Oklahoma. Generators, ice melt, flashlights and other essentials are flying off the shelves at the Westlake ACE Hardware store on NW 23rd Street in Oklahoma City.
ACE Hardware store manager said additional supplies are on the way, but customers shouldn't wait until the last minute because as soon as they arrive, they're scooped up.
Inside the Wal-mart Neighborhood Market on NW 23rd Street, customers are standing in long lines with baskets full of food and drinks.
"I'm not taking any chances this time," said Oklahoma City resident Regina Howell. "I have three kids, and we're getting enough for all weekend."
After scanning the aisles, it appeared customers were mostly stocking up on bottled water, soft drinks, potato chips, bread and beer.
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