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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Icy incidents affect travel; snow expected Sunday

  • Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney, while working the scene where at least three vehicles slid into the guard rail along U.S. 177 Friday afternoon, said he expected conditions to worsen overnight and urged motorists to be cautious.
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    Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney, while working the scene where at least three vehicles slid into the guard rail along U.S. 177 Friday afternoon, said he expected conditions to worsen overnight and urged motorists to be cautious.
     
    And with forecasts calling for snow on Sunday, area residents should prepare now for another round of wintry weather.
     
    As the first wave of freezing precipitation came through the area Friday, many found themselves in an icy incident.
     
    “It’s a solid sheet of ice,” Kidney said about the U.S. 177 bridge near Broadway Street. “It’s even hard for officers to walk out there.”
     
    Kidney, who said there were numerous incidents, said most of the problems were southbound, but there were reportedly no injuries.
     
    And despite the fact that city of Tecumseh crews and Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews were out with salt and sand trucks, conditions were slick and Kidney wasn’t too optimistic about the conditions heading into the overnight hours.
     
    “It’s deteriorating,” he said. “It's slick and I think it will get worse and the night goes on.”
     
    Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz advised drivers to go slow and wear seat belts as many vehicles were flipping on Interstate 40. At least one of the incidents involved three vehicles, including a tractor-trailer rig that was leaking fuel, according to scanner reports. No injuries were reported.
     
    Later in the afternoon, three vehicles also slid in the area of U.S. 177 and Interstate 40, again with no injuries reported.
     
    Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer was reporting slick spots on many county roadways.
     
    Don Lynch, Shawnee’s emergency management director, was keeping in close contact with the national weather service Friday as conditions were rapidly changing and said city of Shawnee salt and sand crews were out in many areas.
     
    As icy conditions affected the area, it was changing plans for many people.
     
    One reader commented on the News-Star’s Facebook page that the wintry weather was causing her to miss a Friday night concert in the Tulsa area, while another postponed a planned trip to the Chandler area.
     
    As many altered plans Friday afternoon, athletic officials with Shawnee High School announced that Friday night’s football game at Guthrie was being postponed. That game was rescheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Guthrie.
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    Lynch said sleet was expected overnight with some improvements today, but he was closely monitoring a system that could likely affect the area Sunday with snow.
     
    “It’s possible we could see accumulations of three inches,” he said. “The forecast is still preliminary and all he computer models don’t agree.”
     
    Lynch said he was certain the forecast would change over the weekend as the Sunday storm draws closer.
     
    At last check, Lynch said they expected another wave of freezing rain and sleet Friday night and into early Saturday, Bridges, overpasses, and elevated surfaces will continue to ice over.
     
    “The ground temperature on roadways and yards is still above freezing in our area so that will help some. However, slick spots will develop on roadways,” Lynch said. “Drivers are urged to use caution when traveling.
     
    Today is expected to be cold with another storm system moving into Southwestern Oklahoma overnight.
     
    By Sunday and Sunday night the sleet and snow are expected to move into central Oklahoma and continue into Monday. Lynch said accumulations are possible. Conditions are expected to improve beginning on Tuesday through the Thanksgiving Holiday period.
     
    Anyone can get the latest information from the National Weather Service at: www.weather.gov/norman
     
    According to ODOT, crews were treating highways and interstates, however precipitation and falling temperatures were causing slick areas to further develop, especially on bridges and overpasses.
     
    During snow and/or ice conditions, motorists are asked to:
    •Stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
    •Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
    •Allow extra space between vehicles, so there is adequate distance for braking in wet and icy conditions.
    •Be aware of "black ice," which looks wet on the roadway, but is actually a thin layer of ice.
    •Please be patient, plan trips ahead and allow extra time to reach destinations
     
    To check current road conditions, the Department of Public Safety’s hotline is: 888-425-2385.
     
    Ahead of this first wave of winter weather, Shawnee Mayor Wes Mainord earlier this month urged residents to prepare for winter. As part of that effort, Lynch provided these helpful winter weather awareness tips.
    Page 3 of 5 - Have a plan:
    · Discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued.
     
    · Ensure your family knows meeting places and phone numbers of other family members in case they are separated when a winter storm hits.
     
    · Know what to do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones are cut off for an extended period of time.
     
    · 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.
     
    · Install and check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
     
    · Let faucets drip to avoid freezing and know how to shut off water valves if necessary.
     
    · Have an alternate heating method such as fireplace or wood or coal burning stove. Always be cautious using a portable space heater.
     
    · Have your car winterized before winter storm season. Keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
     
    · Make sure your home is properly insulated. If necessary insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills.
     
    · Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
     
    · To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of old newspapers. Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
     
    Items for a vehicle kit:
     
    · Windshield scraper, de-icer, snow shovel and small broom for ice and snow removal.
     
    · A cell phone with charger and a battery powered radio.
     
    · Several blankets or sleeping bags and mittens since they are warmer than gloves.
     
    · 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.”
     
    · Bottled water. Eating snow will lower your body temperature. If necessary, melt it first.
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    · Sand or cat litter for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats.
     
    · Jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit and brightly colored cloth to tie to antenna if you get stranded.
     Stay Informed:
     
    · 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 winter weather advisory means winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.
     
    · A frost/freeze warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
     
    · Ice storms usually bring heavy accumulations of ice that can bring down trees, electrical wires, telephone poles and lines, and communication towers. Communications and power can be disrupted for days while the utility company works to repair the extensive damage.
     
    · 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.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Be Cautious with alternative heat sources:
     
    · Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. They produce carbon monoxide.
     
    · Never heat a home with an oven if the electricity goes out
     
    · Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented.
     
    · Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
     
    · Use extra caution when using space heaters. Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
     
    · Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
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    · Do keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency.
     
    · Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves or similar devices indoors.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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