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State-and-regional
Live weather updates, road closures: Flood risk rises in hours after tornadoes hit Tulsa, Owasso

Update: Keystone Dam water release to increase 34%; flooding approaches 1986 levels on Arkansas River


3:45 p.m.: Skiatook Public Schools announced classes will be canceled Wednesday because of high water.

3:15 p.m.: City officials are holding a news conference about water releases from Keystone Dam into the Arkansas River.

The release was at 100,000 cubic feet per second as of noon; it will max at 160,000 cfs at 6 p.m. Tuesday, officials said.

Officials said those living or visiting near the Arkansas River to be aware.

Officials said they don't expect homes to be affected during the release for this week, but a flood risk will persist in south Tulsa County — Bixby in particular, as well as Jenks.

1:55 p.m. Road closings update from Oklahoma Department of Public Safety:

Craig County:

• US60 & SH82

• US60 @ Big Cabin Creek

• US69 & US66

Delaware County:

SH127 & 590RD

Mayes County:

US69 3 miles north of Pryor

450RD eastbound @ US69

Nowata County:

• SH10 4 miles east of Lenapah (Cedar Crek)

Ottawa County:

None

Washington County:

• SH123 between Bartlesville & Dewey

• SH10 WB between Copan & SH99

Will Rogers Turnpike:

None

Cherokee Turnpike:

None

12:30 p.m. Flood warnings remain in effect for the Arkansas River affecting Tulsa County and the Arkansas River near Haskell affecting Muskogee and Wagoner counties. According to NWS Tulsa, the forecast severity of flooding has changed from minor to major severity.

11:30 a.m. A flood warning is in effect for Tulsa County.

10:45 a.m. According to the Storm Prediction Center, 10 tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma since Monday evening.

10:25 a.m. Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies will patrol areas around the Caney River Valley and Bird Creek areas to warn residents of a flood advisory. Caney River is expected to flood around noon, with the Bird Creek area expected to flood by 1 p.m. 

10 a.m. ODOT announces road closings across the state:

Cherokee County

• SH-80 is closed four miles west of Hulbert near Fort Gibson Lake.

Delaware County

• SH-127 is closed near Jay just west of US-59 due to a damaged drainage structure.

Lincoln County

• SH-66 is OPEN west of Chandler.

• SH-99 is OPEN at the Deep Fork River 4 miles south of Stroud.

• SH-18 is closed 2 miles south of Chandler.

• SH-18 is closed 7 miles north of Chandler at CR 840.

• SH-102 is closed 2 miles west of Wellston.

• US-177 is closed at the Deep Fork River just north of SH-66 near Wellston.

• SH-66B is closed west of Wellston.

Mayes County

• US-69A is closed east of US-69 south of Pryor.

• SH-20 is closed 3 miles west of the US-69 junction.

• SH-28 is closed 3.5 miles west of the US-69 junction.

Nowata County

• US-60 is OPEN in Nowata.

• SH-10 is closed east of US-169 near Lenapah.

Pawnee County

• US-64 is closed between Pawnee and SH-18.

• US-64 is OPEN east and west of Pawnee.

Okmulgee County

• US-75A is closed at the railroad overpass just north of Beggs.

• SH-16 is OPEN at the railroad overpass on the east side of Beggs.

Osage County

• SH-20 is OPEN west of Hominy.

• SH-99 is OPEN north of Hominy.

• SH-11 is OPEN north of Barnsdall.

• SH-20 is closed east and west of Skiatook.

• SH-123 is closed south of US-60 near Bartlesville.

Rogers County

• SH-66 is OPEN at SH-88 in Claremore.

Washington County

• US-60 is OPEN 4 miles east of US-75.

• US-75 is OPEN in Dewey.

• SH-123 is closed between Bartlesville and Dewey.

School closings: Tulsa Public Schools are CLOSED Tuesday. Jenks and Union districts announced delayed start times. Verdigris, Collinsville, Catoosa, Sand Springs, Claremore, Bixby, Stillwater, Skiatook and Sperry Public Schools districts are closed Tuesday. 

All Tulsa County facilities, including the courthouse, will open at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, county officials said.

9 a.m. A flash flood warning is in effect for Craig, Rogers, Delaware, Ottawa, Mayes, Washington, Nowata, Wagoner, Muskogee, Okmulgee and Tulsa counties.

8:45 a.m. Storms have caused several flight delays and cancellations, Tulsa International Airport reported. Travelers should check their schedules with airlines.

7:27 a.m. A tornado warning is in effect for Pittsburg County through 8:15 a.m. The storm is producing 1-inch hail.

Severe thunderstorms with quarter-size hail are moving northeast from the Stringtown area at 35 mph. NWS Tulsa warns of flying debris, damage to roofs, windows, vehicles and trees.

7:15 a.m. Oklahoma 20 is closed east of Skiatook as the roadway is flooded. Crews say flooding is limiting access to town on Oklahoma 11, as well.

7 a.m. The severe threat line has moved east toward Talala.

6:52 a.m. Owasso Police Department reports a tornado on the ground with debris near the Tulsa Tech Owasso campus at North 140th East Avenue.

6:45 a.m. A tornado warning is in effect for Claremore, Collinsville and Verdigris through 7:30 a.m.

6:33 a.m. A tornado has been confirmed in north Tulsa near the airport.

NWS Tulsa reports the tornado is moving northeast at 50 mph.

6:15 a.m.: A tornado warning is in effect for Tulsa, Rogers and Osage counties through 7 a.m.

Severe thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado were located along a line extending from 8 miles southwest of Sperry to Sand Springs, moving east at 30 mph, according to NWS Tulsa.


1:07 a.m. Flash flood warning issued until 7 a.m. for Tulsa, Wagoner, Okmulgee and Muskogee counties. 

1:05 a.m. Tornado watch for Craig, Mayes, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers and Washington counties expired. 

Tornado watch for Creek, Okfuskee, Okmulgee and Tulsa counties continued until 5 a.m. 

Tornado watch for Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Haskell, Latimer, Le Flore, McIntosh, Muskogee, Pittsburg, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties until 8 a.m. 

1:01 a.m. Tuesday Flash flood warning in effect until 7 a.m. for Cherokee, Craig, Delaware and Mayes counties. 

At least four tornadoes were reported near Oklahoma towns on Monday: Cashion, Mangum, Bald Hill and Leach.

24-hour rainfall totals as of 12:50 a.m. are as follows, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet:

Skiatook: 6.38 inches

Pawnee: 6.08 inches

Wynona: 5.58 inches

Talala: 5.26 inches 

Inola: 5.07 inches

Oilton: 4.76 inches

Newkirk: 4.73 inches 

Vinita: 4.69 inches 

Miami: 4.58 inches 

Copan: 4.40 inches 

Nowata: 4.31 inches 

Foraker: 4.05 inches 

Burbank: 3.94 inches 

Tulsa: 3.65 inches 

Bixby: 3.63 inches

Jay: 2.87 inches

Updated (12:33 a.m.) Stillwater schools are closed tomorrow due to flooding. 

Updated (12:21 a.m. Tuesday) Tornado watch issued for Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Haskell, Latimer, Le Flore, McIntosh, Muskogee, Pittsburg, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties until 8 a.m. 

Tornado watch for Tulsa, Creek, Okfuskee and Okmulgee counties continued until 5 a.m. 

Peggs Fire-Rescue reports "widespread damage" in Facebook post and asks residents not to travel on damaged roads. 

Updated (11:44 p.m.) Flash flood emergency issued for Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Collinsville, Inola and Pryor until 5:45 a.m. 

At 11:39 p.m. emergency management reported numerous closed roadways, water rescues, and homes being evacuated.

"Three to five inches of rain have fallen, and additional heavy rainfall will move into the area soon. Widespread flash flooding is already occurring," the weather service said.

"Move to higher ground now. This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order."

Additional rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible in the warned area, forecasters said, including Interstate 44 between mile markers 217 and 269.

Updated (11:34 p.m.) Water rescues being reported in Turley.

Updated (11:30 p.m.) Tornado warning for Delaware County allowed to expire.

Updated (11:27 p.m.) The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said westbound Oklahoma 20 was being shut down in Skiatook.

Updated (11:20 p.m.) Tulsa Public Schools announced classes will be held as scheduled Tuesday.

Updated (11:20 p.m.) The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood emergency for Hominy, Pawnee, Bartlesville, Dewey and Skiatook.

At 11:10 p.m. emergency management reported numerous closed roadways, water rescues, and homes being evacuated, the weather service said.

"Four to six inches of rain have fallen, and additional heavy rainfall will move into the area soon. Widespread flash flooding is already occurring.

"This is a particularly dangerous situation. Seek higher ground now!" forecasters said.

Updated (11:16 p.m.): The flash flood warning for Tulsa, Osage, Pawnee and Washington counties has been extended to 5:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Updated (11:03 p.m.): Tornado warning continues for southern Delaware County with the large tornado reported earlier near Peggs and Leach. It was 3 miles north of Twin Oaks moving northeast at 50 mph.

Updated (10:45 p.m.): Meteorologists reporting radar-indicated debris from tornado near Peggs in Cherokee County. The tornado was heading toward the community of Leach in Delaware County.

Updated (10:45 p.m.): Tornado warning for southern Tulsa, Wagoner counties allowed to expire.

Updated (10:39 p.m.): A confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado was located near Peggs in Cherokee County, moving northeast at 50 mph.

Updated (10:32 p.m.): Tornado warning for northeastern Wagoner County allowed to expire.

New tornado warning for southeastern Mayes and northwestern Cherokee counties until 11 p.m.

Updated (10:11 p.m.): Tornado warning for northeastern Wagoner, southeastern Mayes and northwest Cherokee counties until 11 p.m.

A storm capable of producing a tornado was located 3 miles west of Wagoner, moving northeast at 45 mph.

Update (10:10 p.m.): Tornado warning for southeastern Tulsa, westcentral Wagoner and northeastern Okmulgee counties until 10:45 p.m.

A confirmed tornado was located 5 miles southwest of Stonebluff, moving northeast at 25 mph, the weather service said.

The circulation appeared to be weakening, forecasters said.

Update (10:07 p.m.): A new tornado watch has been issued until 5 a.m. Tuesday for Tulsa, Creek and Okmulgee counties.

Update (10 p.m.): Severe thunderstorm warning for Rogers, northwestern Mayes, northwestern Wagoner and southeastern Tulsa counties until 11 p.m.

The tornado watch for Tulsa, Creek, Osage and Washington counties has expired.

Update (9:45 p.m.): Tornado warning for Tulsa, Rogers counties allowed to expire.

The tornado watch for Tulsa, Creek, Osage and Washington counties is set to expire at 10 p.m. A tornado watch for areas east remains in effect until 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Several severe thunderstorm warnings for the area are in effect.

Update (9:39 p.m.): Sperry emergency managers report flash flooding in much of the town's streets, approximately 6 to 8 inches of water. 

Update (9:28 p.m.): Tulsa police are reporting street flooding at various locations. Water rescues were also reported in Bartlesville.

Update (9:26 p.m.): The tornado warning for Creek, Osage and west parts of Tulsa counties has been allowed to expire.

Tornado warning for area northeast of downtown remains in effect until 9:45 p.m.

Update (9:07 p.m.): Tornado warnings for Tulsa, Creek, Osage and Rogers counties. Radar indicated a possible tornado four miles southeast of Mannford and moving northeast at 40 mph. Another possible tornado was located near Tulsa International Airport moving northeast at 50 mph.

Sirens were being activated in Tulsa, Owasso and Broken Arrow.

Update (8:47 p.m.): A flash flood warning is in effect for Tulsa, southeast Osage, Rogers, Creek, northern Wagoner and southeast Pawnee counties until 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Update (8:46 p.m.): Severe thunderstorm warning for Tulsa, southern Rogers, southeastern Osage, northern Creek, westcentral Mayes, southwestern Washington, northern Wagoner and southeastern Pawnee counties until 9:45 p.m.

Severe storms were located along a line near Drumright to east of Collinsville moving east at 25 mph.

Update (8:45 p.m.): Tornado warning for Creek and Pawnee counties allowed to expire.

Strong storms were moving into the Tulsa metro area.

Update (8:25 p.m.): Severe thunderstorm warning for northeastern Tulsa, southeastern Osage, southern Washington and southeastern Pawnee counties until 9:15 p.m.

Storms were located near Cleveland and Avant, moving east at 25 mph.

Update (8:04 p.m.): Tornado warning for Creek and Pawnee counties until 8:45 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located over Oilton moving east at 25 mph. 

Update (7:42 p.m.): Severe thunderstorm warning for southeastern Osage, northwestern Creek and Pawnee counties until 8:30 p.m.

A severe storm was located near Osage, moving east at 30 mph.

Update (7:19 p.m.): Severe thunderstorm warning in effect until 7:45 p.m. for northern Tulsa, Osage, Washington, Pawnee, Nowata, northern Rogers, northwestern Craig counties.

A line of severe storms was located from Deering to Barnsdall, moving east at 45 mph. Wind gusts of 60 mph and quarter-sized hail were possible with the storms.

Update (6:51 p.m.): Flash flood warning for areas north and east of Tulsa, including Washington, Craig, northern Rogers, northern Delaware, Ottawa, northwestern Mayes and Nowata counties until 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Update (6:40 p.m.): The tornado warning for Osage and Pawnee counties has been allowed to expire.

Update (6:30 p.m.): The National Weather Service said life-threatening flash flooding is possible in parts of Oklahoma overnight as storms with heavy rainfall are expected to continue.

"Repeated rounds of thunderstorms are likely to cause locally very heavy rainfall, especially across central Oklahoma. The areas that receive the heaviest rainfall could see severe, life-threatening flash flooding, especially if it occurs over an urban area."

Rain rates with the strongest thunderstorm clusters could exceed 2 inches per hour, forecasters said.

Update (6:11 p.m.): Tornado warning for Osage and Pawnee counties extended until 7 p.m. The storm was 5 miles north of Pawnee, moving east at 45 mph.

Update (5:48 p.m.): The Storm Prediction Center in Norman recorded eight reports of tornadoes, 17 reports of wind damage and 35 reports of hail nationwide so far.

Update (5:33 p.m.): Tornado warning issued for southcentral Osage and Pawnee counties. The storm was near Morrison moving east at 55 mph.

Update (5:23 p.m.): Tornadoes were reported on the ground near Perry and Mangum.

Update (5:17 p.m.): Tornado watch issued for eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri until 1 a.m.

Update (4:46 p.m.): Flash flood warning issued for Osage and Pawnee counties until 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Update (4:09 p.m.): The National Weather Service in Tulsa said forecasters are watching the area south of Interstate 44 for storm development.

"Severe risk will persist well into the night," the office said on Twitter. Tulsa, Creek, Okmulgee and Osage counties remains under a tornado watch until 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, several tornadoes were reported on the ground in western Oklahoma, including one north of Crescent and another near Watonga.

Update (1:40 p.m.): The National Weather Service has several counties in Oklahoma under a tornado watch called a "particularly dangerous situation." 

Numerous strong tornadoes are expected in the impact area, which encompasses most of the state's 77 counties, with widespread large hail and winds up to 80 mph. The tornado watch is in effect through 10 p.m.

Update (1 p.m.): Jenks Public Schools is postponing its commencement originally set for Monday evening. Jenks seniors will now graduate 7 p.m. Wednesday at Oral Roberts University's Mabee Center. 

Update (12:45 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Ottawa and Rogers counties through 1:30 p.m.

Update (Noon): The tornado risk has been elevated for northwest Texas into west-central Oklahoma from 30% to 45%.

Severe thunderstorm warnings expired in Tulsa and surrounding counties, though a flash flood watch remains in effect through Tuesday.

Oklahoma City's Will Rogers Airport warned travelers of impending cancellations and delays at the OKC airport due to the forecast.

Update (11 a.m.): Tulsa County is under a severe thunderstorm warning through 11:45, in addition to Creek, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers and Washington counties.

The National Weather Service in Tulsa warns of torrential rainfall, 60 mph wind gusts and half-dollar-sized hail.

Strong words from the Storm Prediction Center on Monday's outlook: "A serious outbreak of destructive, tornadic supercells is likely over parts of this region this afternoon into evening, especially in the high- and moderate-risk areas. Given the expected fast storm motions, especially mid-afternoon into evening, a few of the best-organized supercells may reach an equilibrium with their already very favorable mesoscale environments long enough to sustain wide, long-track tornadoes."

Tulsa Public Schools and Catoosa Public Schools are closed Monday. Tulsa City-County Library branches will close at noon Monday. Collinsville High School postponed its graduation scheduled for Monday evening. Tinker Air Force Base has implemented liberal leave for those on the base, and a spokesman said aircraft were moved to other bases over the weekend. 

Broken Arrow Public Schools are remaining open but allowing for no-penalty early pickup at 1:30 Monday afternoon.

(8 a.m. Monday): In an outlook issued Monday morning, the National Weather Service stated a "serious outbreak of destructive, tornadic supercells is likely" across the southern plains, including much of Oklahoma and parts of Texas throughout the day and into the overnight hours. 

Forecasters have the Tulsa area in a "moderate" risk categories for severe weather, with a rarely used "high" risk area stretching from the Interstate 44 corridor to roughly Snyder, Texas. A tornado risk exists across an arc from west Texas to the Oklahoma-Missouri-Arkansas border, but the "high" risk area carries greater chances for violent, long-track tornadoes.


In an outlook issued Monday morning, the National Weather Service stated a tornado outbreak is likely across the southern plains, including much of Oklahoma and parts of Texas throughout the day and into the overnight hours. 

After several days of warning that Monday's forecast had the potential for a significant event, forecasters now say those fears could be realized as early as lunchtime across eastern and central Oklahoma.

Forecasters have the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas in "moderate" risk categories for severe weather, with a rarely used "high" risk area stretching from west Oklahoma City to roughly Snyder, Texas. A tornado risk exists across an arc from west Texas to the Oklahoma-Missouri-Arkansas border, but the "high" risk area carries greater chances for violent, long-track tornadoes.

Initial modeling as of early Monday reportedly has a first round of storms in both the Texas panhandle and across western and central Oklahoma as a warm front moves north across the state. These storms will initially produce large hail, but any cell that matures could produce a tornado. As they move northeastward, they will not only lose their associated tornado risk but also clear the area, allowing for a second round of storms forming in southwest Oklahoma and the Interstate 27 corridor in Texas. 

Monday's forecast is scheduled to be updated by 8 a.m. Check back with tulsaworld.com for updates. 


State-and-regional
Life-threatening flash flooding, strong tornadoes are main threats overnight into Tuesday

Life-threatening flash flooding and tornadoes struck the state Monday evening in northeast Oklahoma after at least three tornadoes were reported in southwest, central and northeast parts of Oklahoma.

Supercell storms developed across western and central Oklahoma Monday afternoon, bringing reported tornadoes to Greer and Logan counties before moving into eastern Oklahoma Monday evening.

About 10:35 p.m. Monday, a large tornado was confirmed near Peggs in Cherokee County. The National Weather Service said debris from that storm was detected by radar up to 10,000 feet, indicating potentially “catastrophic” damage. The storm later tracked northeast toward Leach. No other information about that storm was available late Monday.

No injuries were reported as a result of the storms as of Monday evening, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, but one tornado reported in Mangum, the county seat of Greer County, caused damage to three homes, an apartment complex, fairgrounds and an airport. Numerous power lines were down.

A reported tornado near Cashion in Logan County damaged a barn, power poles and trees, according to the department’s situation update.

Sirens in the Tulsa metro area were also activated after tornado warnings were issued. Rotation was indicated by radar near Mannford and Tulsa International Airport.

A confirmed tornado also was reported near Bixby, and another area of rotation was reported near Wagoner.

There were no immediate reports of damage there.

A flash-flood warning for Tulsa and the surrounding area was also in effect through early Tuesday morning. Counties under the warning were Tulsa, Creek, Mayes, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers and Wagoner.

Tulsa police reported street flooding in several locations and water rescues occurred in Bartlesville, officials said.

Multiple school districts across the state canceled classes Monday, including Tulsa Public Schools.

A stationary boundary from near Miami to Pawnee in northeast Oklahoma threatened to enhance the potential for tornadoes if it met with the storms, according to the National Weather Service.

A brief lull in severe weather was considered possible toward the early morning hours of Tuesday, but a line of storms was expected to re-intensify and to move into eastern Oklahoma after 3 a.m. with potential for leading-edge tornadoes and locally damaging winds, according to the weather service.

Significant flooding was likely to develop overnight due to saturated ground, especially across portions of eastern Oklahoma, and there remained potential for life-threatening flooding across portions of northeast Oklahoma where recent excessive rains have fallen.

Flash flooding across roadways was reported in Bartlesville, Cleveland, Hominy and Pawhuska Monday night.

Washington County Emergency Management reported multiple water rescues took place in Bartlesville due to stranded motorists Monday night.

Emergency management officials in Garvin County, located south of Oklahoma City, requested 1,000 sandbags from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare for possible river flooding in Pauls Valley later this week.

State and federal support and rescue teams were on standby Monday night, including the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Urban Search and Rescue teams, Regional Emergency Medical Services System strike teams, and the Public Utility Division emergency response team.


Education
Schools' reactions to Monday's storm forecast show the continued influence of a tornado that killed seven students in Moore

Oklahoma school districts faced a tough choice leading up to the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornado outbreaks Monday — exactly six years after the destruction of two elementary schools in Moore.

Tulsa-area superintendents consulted meteorologists and emergency management teams on Sunday evening as they debated whether to stay open or cancel school. Most chose the first option, while Tulsa Public Schools opted for the second.

TPS, the state’s second-largest school district, announced the cancellation of classes and its biweekly school board meeting about 9:20 p.m. Sunday.

Spokeswoman Lauren Partain said in a statement that the decision came after experts predicted “very threatening and unstable conditions,” including the possibility of tornadoes and flash flooding, throughout Monday.

“Given that we serve the largest population of students and families in the area and that we have the largest geographic area from which to transport students, we erred (on the) side of caution to ensure that students and staff were not at risk while getting to and from school,” Partain said. “We also wanted to provide families sufficient advance notice so they could plan accordingly for child care or other needs.”

The decision to close in anticipation of thunderstorms was met with mixed results on social media. Many praised the district for playing it safe, while some complained that it acted too rashly. More complaints came in after it appeared that Tulsa had mostly avoided the danger earlier in the day.

Several large school districts in central Oklahoma — Oklahoma City, Norman and Moore — also canceled classes based on Monday’s forecast.

Online criticism of these decisions drew the ire of Kristin Atchley, a former counselor at Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary School.

“If you disagree with the metro districts making this call, you clearly have forgotten 7 lives that were lost 6 years ago tomorrow,” Kristin Atchley tweeted Sunday evening. “Also, the rest of us that begged for our lives and fought our way to safety.”

Atchley, who is now director of student services at the Mid-Del School District in the Oklahoma City area, survived the May 20, 2013, tornado that claimed the lives of seven of her students at Plaza Towers. The EF5 twister also leveled Briarwood Elementary School, though no students died there.

Atchley tweeted a photo collage of the seven students, noting that the anniversary is always a difficult day for survivors of the tragedy.

“Let me just say, the caution being shown for this storm tomorrow helps me believe what we went through and the lives lost were not in vain. It taught this state and (Oklahoma educators) to be prepared like never before,” Atchley wrote.

The circumstances of TPS’ closure appear to be a first. Partain did not know whether the district previously has canceled classes as a result of a weather condition other than snow or ice, but other local education officials said they’ve never heard of it happening in the Tulsa area. It has occurred in schools districts around Oklahoma City, however.

Although Union Public Schools remained open, Superintendent Kirt Hartzler said this kind of choice has become increasingly complex. Catastrophic events such as what happened in Moore six years ago and in Joplin, Missouri, two years earlier have changed the views and mindsets of how education leaders address looming bad weather.

But Hartzler said they also have to consider the ramifications of closing based on a possibility instead of a guarantee. He doesn’t want families to expect cancellations during every storm threat.

“If you start setting a precedent that you’re going to potentially cancel everything when a forecast of a bad weather storm is made, that’s going to be tough to deal with, as well,” he said.

Jenks Public Schools also declined to cancel classes, but the district did postpone its Monday evening commencement for seniors. The graduation ceremony now is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Oral Roberts University Mabee Center.

District spokesman Rob Loeber said he believes there’s probably a big difference in mindset and risk factors between the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas on days where tornadoes are forecast.

“I think those people understandably want to be extremely cautious, and rightly so,” he said. “And I think if you’ve lived in Oklahoma for any period of time, you’ve also realized that the frequency and intensity of tornadoes is higher in that part of the state than here where we are.”

The Jenks and Union districts based their decisions largely on meteorologists’ forecasts that the severity of the storms wasn’t expected to hit until later in the day.

They also believed that most students would be safer at school than at home. Few schools are equipped with tornado shelters, but they all reportedly have designated safe places and weather emergency plans.

At Broken Arrow Public Schools, a large number of students don’t have an adult at home during the day to keep them safe in severe weather, spokesman Charlie Hannema said. The suburban city reportedly has one of the largest populations of single-parent households in the state.

“We know with a lot of our kids, their parents or grandparents or whoever’s in charge of watching them are at work,” Hannema said. “It’s a little bit different with snow or cold weather. You can tell your youngster if you keep them home to stay inside, and it’s not a big deal.

“But with tornadoes or situations like this, if you can’t have a parent at home, there’s a lot of anxiety both on the parents who are at work and the kids. We just think that for the majority of our students, it’s safer to have them in school.”

Unlike the other districts, Broken Arrow had the extra complication of Monday’s being the final day of the school year and the final opportunity for students to complete their exams.

Some stayed home due to the weather. Hannema said they will have a chance to make up their tests, which will be administered by staff members who remain on contract in the summer.


News
Building trust high on interim OU president's to-do list

University of Oklahoma interim President Joe Harroz said that when he became OU’s law dean nine years ago, it was suggested that a provision in the law school faculty handbook requiring a two-thirds vote by the law faculty could be wired around.

The job, he was told, could be offered on the strength of a search committee recommendation.

Harroz said he rejected the idea.

Circumventing the vote, Harroz said during a visit to Tulsa on Monday, would have cost him the trust of the very people he was expected to lead.

He said the same principle applies to his current situation as OU’s interim and potentially permanent president, except now he needs the trust of the entire campus.

To get it, Harroz said, he needs the process determining whether he or someone else ultimately becomes OU’s next president to be open and inclusive.

“It has to be ... for the campus to accept it,” Harroz said.

“What’s become clear in the past year is how important (transparency) was to the campus.

“I spent all of Friday with faculty and student groups,” he said. “I had a great day. And the thing that resonated with them is that this is not a cram-down job.”

People who specialize in such things say presidential searches must be secretive to attract the best candidates. But secretiveness also attracts a lot of criticism and can start a new president on the wrong foot with faculty and students.

Such was the process that resulted in James Gallogly coming out of corporate retirement 10 months ago. A major donor and successful business executive whose name is on the College of Engineering, Gallogly was nevertheless a surprise choice to succeed David Boren.

Harroz said he is at least a known quantity. He has spent 23 of the last 25 years at OU, including 12 as general counsel prior to his tenure as law dean. He understands the peculiarities of campus politics and the public scrutiny that comes with running a flagship university.

Gallogly, by all accounts, did not.

Possessed of a ready smile and a quick, self-deprecating sense of humor, Harroz qualifies as the likable persuader Gallogly is not.

It was never official, but Harroz seems to have been a finalist in the last presidential search; reportedly, he came in second to Gallogly.

That may have worked to Harroz’s advantage. While Gallogly’s personality demonstrably rubbed many people the wrong way, Harroz said Gallogly also instituted some needed financial reforms and had to deal with several situations not of his own making, including a contentious investigation of the popular and sometimes controversial Boren and an incident involving a woman wearing blackface in an online video.

OU said the interim job is Harroz’s for 15 months, during which it has no plans for a presidential search. So, apparently, Harroz and the university will be trying each other on for size.

Aside from administrative ability, the toughest questions about Harroz surround his relationship with Boren. Harroz first went to work for Boren in his early 20s and was the university’s lawyer for 12 years during Boren’s 24-year presidency.

Harroz said Monday he is “walled off” from the investigation into whether Boren sexually harassed a student while president. He said he doesn’t know of any untoward behavior on Boren’s part.

Harroz said he also thinks he’s proven his worth on his own terms, both as chief counsel and law dean. He hopes the campus he now leads thinks the same.

“I’ve been around a long time,” he said, “so you can ask people what my reputation is.”


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Street School students head out to the Lower Illinois River to release trout they raised in the classroom and learn about the river and fishing as part of Trout Unlimited's Trout in the Classroom program.

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Tulsa County commissioners accused of misleading the public over immigration enforcement program

Tulsa County’s typically staid commissioners meeting turned into a raucous affair Monday when a University of Tulsa assistant professor of law rose to demand that she be heard and accused commissioners of shunting their responsibilities and acting in bad faith.

Mimi Marton, director of the Tulsa Immigrant Resource Network, did not come alone. Joined by a roomful of other opponents of the county’s participation in a federal immigration enforcement program, she demanded to know why commissioners took public comments on the issue last week without first telling the roomful of speakers that the sheriff had already signed an extension of the agreement.

“It is the public policy of the state of Oklahoma — and this is a quote — ‘That the people are invested with an inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government,’” Marton told commissioners. “When you conceal the fact the contract we objected to was already renewed, that is certainly not consistent” with the state’s policy.

County commissioners on May 13 heard from 18 speakers opposed to the county’s involvement in the 287(g) program. Not once during the meeting were speakers informed that the agreement had been signed by Sheriff Vic Regalado on May 10.

The Sheriff’s Office is one of dozens of local law enforcement agencies participating in the 287(g) program, which uses local law enforcement to identify and process undocumented residents for deportation proceedings.

Commissioner Karen Keith, who arranged for last week’s public hearing, insisted that she had informed one of the speakers in advance that the memorandum of understanding had been signed.

“I made it clear on Friday (May 10) when we were visiting that that was in fact what was going to happen,” she said during Monday’s meeting.

To which Marton responded: “Even if (you) had, all of you remained silent. Eighteen people came up here, some of them making themselves vulnerable, to express a concern.”

Marton and other opponents of the 287(g) program weren’t authorized to speak during Monday’s meeting because the issue was not on the agenda, though one speaker said she had called Keith’s office last week asking to have it added.

“Well, that is on me, and I am sorry,” Keith said.

Her colleagues on the three-member commission, meanwhile, said they didn’t know that the agreement had been signed when public comments were taken last week.

Commissioner Ron Peters said the last time he spoke to the sheriff — a few days before the May 13 meeting — Regalado had not even received the agreement to sign. Commissioner Stan Sallee said he wasn’t notified that the sheriff had signed the agreement.

But Regalado said after Monday’s meeting that he had informed all three commissioners of his intention to sign the memorandum of understanding.

“I think it was that Thursday, not that Friday (before the May 13 meeting), when I called them and said, ‘Hey, I’ve talked to (Assistant District Attorney) Doug Wilson, and he’s advised that we’re good to go as far as me signing it,” Regalado said.

The sheriff said he signed the extension without seeking commissioners’ approval because their approval was not statutorily required and it was just a 12-month extension.

Regalado said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not entering into new 287(g) agreements and that he was told by the agency that all that was needed for the extension was his signature.

After conferring with the DA’s Office, he signed the agreement.

“He (Wilson) said I had the statutory authority to sign it, and as long as ICE did not require the county commissioners that I was fine to go ahead and move forward with just my signature,” Regalado said.

Wilson said in an email to the Tulsa World that he based his decision on language in Title 19 of Oklahoma statutes, which states in part:

“Each county sheriff may contract with any public or private entity engaged in the business of transportation of prisoners, the Department of Justice of the United States of America, the Department of Corrections, or any municipality of this state for the feeding, care, housing, and upkeep of federal, state, or municipal prisoners, or alien detainees incarcerated in the county jail.”

Regalado said he did not mention that he had signed the agreement last week because he assumed the speakers already knew.

“I know everybody there is looking for a devious reason as to why I signed it,” he said, “but at the end of the day it was because it’s an extension, it was quicker, and it was all that was required was my signature.”

Keith, who opposes the 287(g) program, stayed after Monday’s meeting to talk with Marton and other opponents of the program and encouraged them to keep up the pressure.

Marton and her colleagues plan to continue pressing their case at the commission’s June 3 meeting.

Historically, the Board of County Commissioners, not the sheriff, has signed off on the 287(g) agreements. Under the terms of the MOU, either the county or ICE can end the agreement at any time.