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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Winter blast leaves nearly 4,000 without power, temperatures to be below freezing thru Monday

  • Winter weather is back in the Tri-County area after a storm brought freezing rain and ice overnight Friday and into Saturday.
    The winter mix has also resulted in power outages for nearly 4,000 customers in the Tri-County area.
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  • Winter weather is back in the Tri-County area after a storm brought freezing rain and ice overnight Friday and into Saturday. The winter mix has also resulted in power outages for nearly 4,000 customers in the Tri-County area. Lynch said 100 customers served by The Tecumseh Utility Authority lost power, said Don Lynch, emergency management director for the City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County. In the area, another 569 OGE customers were without power. Of those, 484 were located in Shawnee and another 85 were in Tecumseh. Meanwhile, Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative reported 3,185 customers without electricity as of 6 p.m. Saturday, said Bob Weaver, the company's manager of marketing and economic development. Lynch said both the Tecumseh and Shawnee Fire Departments had handled calls related to sparking power lines Saturday. Ice quickly became the main concern for local authorities as it left a combination of wet roads and slick spots throughout the vicinity. “The slick spots are in the normal places like ramps, elevated areas and bridges,” Lynch said. “If you don't have to travel, don't do it. If you have to travel, put more distance between you and the car in front of you. Also, remember to slow down.” Lynch said no road closures were reported in Pottawatomie County Saturday evening. “We're going to continue to prepare for freezing rain overnight with the low-pressure system moving out,” he said. “We're not out of it yet. It will get worse before it gets better.” Ryan Barnes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, said there would be a slight chance of flurries around midnight Sunday, but nothing significant. “The temperature will drop to the mid 20s by [Sunday] morning with the lowest temperature being before sunrise,” he said. “The high on Sunday will approach freezing maybe one or two degrees above.” By Monday morning, skies will clear out and the temp will drop to about 18 degrees, he added. “On Monday, the high will be in the mid-30s maybe 35,” he said. “Tuesday morning lows are lower 20s and Christmas Eve day highs will be in the low 40s.” When temperatures fall into the 20s any water remaining on bridges and overpasses will be more likely to freeze, Barnes said. As such, he urged caution in travel. Lynch said he was not anticipating much snow accumulation in Pottawatomie County either Saturday night or Sunday morning. “It will be more of a dusting,” he said. “However, winds will pick up tomorrow so we'll watch closely to see how things work out.” Barnes said the NWS would be watching the wind closely Sunday during the day particularly since there won't be much if any ice melting. “Wind speeds tomorrow afternoon are expected to be around 15-20 mph,” he said. “This could lead to additional outages.” Lynch said storm crews prepared overpasses and bridges for the storm before it arrived Friday. Crews remained out and working late Saturday, he added. “We use a calcium fluoride mixture for bridges and overpasses before an ice storm occurs to keep temp above freezing,” he said. “Once it is on the ground, we use a salt and sand mixture.” Weaver said he expected to see more power outages as the day progressed. He added CVEC first received calls of outages just after midnight Saturday morning. “It hit the northwest part of the system,” he said. “We've been manning our phones since the first outages were reported. Our dispatch was there all night. They called in personnel to answer calls live.” Weaver echoed the concerns of Barnes and Lynch as they relate to winds. “We're concerned about the winds,” he said. “With ice accumulating on power lines, they get weighed down. But when the wind blows it can gallop and even pull down poles.” CVEC has prepared for this possibility, Weaver said. “We have had an aggressive tree trimming project over the last few years which has helped,” he said. “However, we have agreements with other co-ops for them to send in additional crews as needed. We already have equipment ready for them if needed.”
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