Monday storms brought traffic collisions, flooding

Monday, June 9th 2008, 8:25 am
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

   Thunderstorms rolled across Oklahoma early Monday, bringing heavy rain and strong winds that caused power outages, dozens of traffic collisions and localized flooding.

   By Monday night, the only outages reported by Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. were fewer than 300 in Fort Smith, Ark., just across the state line from Oklahoma. About 4,400 customers had been without power earlier in the day, with about 3,800 of those in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

   Public Service Company of Oklahoma had outages in Cheyenne, Leedey, Butler and the Hammon area.

   The storms continued Monday morning across much of central and northern Oklahoma, producing heavy rainfall and triggering flash flood warnings, but subsided by mid-afternoon.

   "Since the rain started just after 3 (a.m.), we responded to 36 accidents, where injuries were not reported and six where injuries were reported," Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said. "It's mainly because people are driving too fast and they run off the roadways or run into center retaining walls.

   "We've gone so long without any rain, the grime, the oil has built up on the roadway and now that the water is on it, it is really slick. We are encouraging people to slow down, not follow too closely and wear seat belts."

   In Tulsa, police reported at least 17 weather-related collisions since midnight, Officer Jason Willingham said.

   The rain moved east through the state and the National Weather Service issued numerous flood watches, although many were allowed to expire.

   Rain totals at 7 p.m., which included totals from the previous 24 hours, included 4.33 inches at Tulsa, 3.95 inches at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, 4.04 inches in Bartlesville, 2.82 inches at Stillwater, 2.7 inches at Clinton and 2.68 inches at McAlester.

   The National Weather Service issued a series of flood warnings for the eastern part of the state, including the Verdigris River near Lenapah, Bird Creek near Sperry and near Owasso-Mingo and the Caney River at Bartlesville, Ramona and Collinsville.

   Minor flooding was forecast for the Verdigris River, while moderate flooding was predicted for Bird Creek and the Caney River, causing parks and recreational areas to close and making some roadways impassible.

   Some homes northeast of Collinsville off U.S. Highway 169 near the Caney River could be flooded, the weather service said.

   The service also forecasted minor flooding for the Spring River near Quapaw and the Illinois River near Watts and Tahlequah, where extreme turbulence was expected to make the river too hazardous for floating, a popular pastime during this time of year.

   Some of the thunderstorms were expected to dump up to 6 inches in some parts of northeastern Oklahoma, and another round of storms was forecast for Thursday, said Glenn Wiley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

   Some radar estimates showed between four inches and five inches of rainfall in parts of Pawnee, Osage and Washington counties in northeastern Oklahoma, according to the weather service.

   "We've been pummeled really all spring," Wiley said Monday. "Green country has never been greener this time of year."