Tulsa, Oklahoma officials prepared for Christmas storm
BY ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
12/25/12 at 7:05 AM
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City of Tulsa winter preparedness
Updated forecast information from the weather service
Department of Public Safety road
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Those dreaming of a white Christmas may get a dose of reality on Tuesday.
City and state crews are prepared for a large snowstorm, even if the Tulsa area receives less than the 4-to-10 inches forecast for parts of northeast Oklahoma.
Tim McCorkell, Tulsa's street maintenance manager, said that about 160 city workers - including mechanics, truck drivers and managers - are ready to plow, salt and sand streets should a snowstorm hit Tulsa.
"If we have to come in at 2 a.m., we will," McCorkell said. "We'll be working around the clock until we get all of the arterials cleared."
Arterial streets, or the main streets, will be the top priority for clearing, McCorkell said. After these streets, feeder streets, including around schools or roadways used to exit neighborhoods, will be cleared as needed.
In a news release, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority announced that it pre-treated all bridges, overpasses and interchanges.
A majority of turnpike maintenance workers were to report at midnight Monday and work 12-hour shifts, the release states.
Some expressway segments in Tulsa are maintained by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The Oklahoma Department of Safety reported that it has 550 trucks statewide, including 41 in Tulsa, prepared to treat highways. DPS also reported that all 110 of its salt sheds statewide are fully stocked.
McCorkell said the city learned valuable lessons from dealing with the February 2011 snowstorms, which dropped 14 inches within a 24-hour period and more than 5 inches in a separate storm about a week later.
In addition, McCorkell said that the city also has the necessary supplies and equipment, including about 14,500 tons of salt.
"That should get us through the winter," McCorkell said. "We're stocked probably the best that we've ever been."
Winter storm advisory for Tulsa County: The National Weather Service on Monday afternoon downgraded Tulsa County's winter storm warning to a winter storm advisory.
The advisory, in effect from 3 a.m. to midnight Tuesday, forecasts a mixture of light sleet and freezing rain, expected to begin overnight into Tuesday morning. Heavier precipitation, including snow, is forecast to begin midday Tuesday and continue during the afternoon.
Up to 2 inches of snow accumulation and less than one-tenth of an inch of ice accumulation is expected Tuesday in Tulsa, the weather service forecasts.
Areas south and southeast of Tulsa are under a winter storm warning from 3 a.m. to midnight Tuesday, including Adair, Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, McIntosh, Muskogee, Pittsburg and Sequoyah counties.
Light freezing rain and sleet is forecast early for those areas, with up to 7 inches of snow and less than one-tenth of an inch of ice.
Tulsa has not recorded any snowfall since trace amounts fell on March 8. The last measurable amount of snow in Tulsa was 1.3 inches on Feb. 13, according to the weather service.
Customers shop for snowfall: The looming storm also added items to some last-minute shopping lists.
"We've had a lot of people grabbing snow shovels and rock salt," said James Jones of the downtown Home Depot.
At Best Hardware, customers were also picking up shovels, ice melt and de-icer.
"It's almost like a panic," said Best Hardware's Dustin Freeman. "People are preparing."
The Reasor's store at 21st Street and Yale Avenue had a mix of preparations for the holiday and the storm.
"It's been busy since early this morning," said manager Micha Railey. "I think it's both."
Snow on Christmas in Tulsa
Most snowfall on Christmas: 1.3 inches in 1975
Most snow depth on Christmas: 6 inches in 2009
Christmases with any snowfall: 11 times, most recently in 2010
Source: National Weather Service. Records date back to 1900
Precipitation on Christmas in Tulsa
Most precipitation on Christmas: 1.29 inches in 1987
Source: National Weather Service, records date back to 1888
For more information:
Department of Public Safety's road conditions hotline: 888-425-2385
Updates on Oklahoma turnpikes: 877-403-7623
Tulsa and turnpike preparedness stats:
- 45 truck-mounted snow plows
- 62 truck-mounted sand-salt spreaders
- About 14,500 tons of salt
- 3 motor graders for use as plows
- 5 four-wheel-drive pickups
Sources: Jack Damrill, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Tim McCorkell, city of Tulsa
- 35,196 tons of salt
- 12,027 tons of sand
- 15 graders
- 32 loaders
- 97 spreaders
- 119 plows
Temperatures for Christmas in Tulsa (in degrees Fahrenheit):
Warmest Christmas: 73 in 1922
Coldest Christmas: -2 in 1983
Normal high: 48
Normal low: 28
Last year's high: 57
Last year's low: 24
This year's forecast high: 34
This year's forecast low: 17
Note: Normals are based on a 30-year average from 1981-2000.
Source: National Weather Service; records date back to 1905
Original Print Headline: City, state officials prepared for storm
Althea Peterson 918-581-8361
Salt is dumped into a truck before it heads out to salt streets last year. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World file
Eddie Perez of Tulsa grabs a 50-pound bag of salt at Midtown Hardware in Tulsa in preparation for an ice and snow storm in 2010. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file