WATCH: Oklahoma Gov. Stitt gives winter storm update, power demand situation

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt will be holding a news briefing to discuss the winter storm situation.

He will also be addresses the power demand situation.

Early on Monday there were rolling blackouts for parts of the state.

Those rolling blackouts were called out after a call for energy conservation was sent out and Oklahomans responded according to officials.

Those blackouts could still happen again.

Stitt says he has spoken with President Biden’s Homeland Security Advisor about an emergency declaration.

Watch the entire news conference and the explanation of why rolling blackouts were happening and then suddenly halted.

The city of Oklahoma City has released the following updated information on the winter weather impacts across the metro:

Streets

At least one lane in each direction has been cleared by City crews and contractors along City snow routes.

City street crews driving 25 trucks with snowplows are working around the clock. Crews will continue to plow the City’s snow routes until conditions improve. Contractors are on stand-by until the next round of snow starts to move through OKC. Salt is not being applied to streets because it is less effective in low temperatures.

A contractor using 6 motor graders, 13 loaders and 36 dump trucks is removing snow from downtown and transporting it to the former Bob Howard car lot.

There are 8,500 lane miles* in Oklahoma City, of that 1,800 lane miles are on snow routes. Neighborhood streets are not part of the snow routes and will not be treated.  An on-call contractor has been assisting the City crews on routes today.  

People are encouraged to avoid driving during hazardous conditions. If you must drive you should have someone to call in case you are stranded. If you get stranded, try to move your car off the road so other vehicles can safely pass.

Public Works has more than 9,000 tons of salt on hand, which is more than needed to treat City streets during this storm.

People can get updates at okc.gov/ice.

*A lane mile is a mile of roadway in a single driving lane.

Airport

Will Rogers World Airport is expecting cancellations and delays with the next bout of snow expected Wednesday. Travelers are encouraged to rebook if their travel plans are flexible.

Crews will continue to work in shifts but are staying onsite to maintain the airfield, airport roadways, sidewalks and employee parking facilities. Up to 40 maintenance employees are staying activated throughout the storm.

ABM Parking, the parking contractor at WRWA, is maintaining access to parking facilities for arriving and departing customers. Drivers for the Giddy Up Shuttles in Lot #2 have stayed on alert and are watching for customers as they pull into the lot. Many times, drivers can pick parkers up at their vehicles for transport to the terminal.

Travelers and visitors should frequently check the status of their flight prior to coming to the airport. Most airlines offer flight updates via mobile app, text notifications or on the airline’s website.

Utilities – Water, trash and recycling

Trash, recycling and bulky waste collection has been postponed due to ongoing weather concerns. The new schedule is as follows: Monday trash and recycling collection is moved to Saturday, Feb. 20. Tuesday trash and recycling collection is moved to Sunday, Feb. 21.

Crews will resume normal operations on Thursday, Feb. 18. All Thursday and Friday customers will have their trash and recycling collected on their usual day. Bulky waste operations will work Thursday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 21. Customers are asked to leave any bulky items in a visible location along the curb and make sure it is not covered by snow. 

The snow may cause additional limbs to fall from trees. If this happens, please set them out with your regular bulky waste. All regular bulky waste rules will apply.

For bulky waste, residents are asked to keep their items out until end-of-day on Saturday, Feb. 21.

EMBARK

EMBARK bus service has implemented a plan to run reduced service levels on Tuesday February 16.  The service levels will be equivalent to weekend service, which is one-hour frequency on most routes operating from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Customers will be advised by 3 p.m. on Tuesday via embarkok.com and social media if reduced service levels will continue on Wednesday. EMBARK bus transportation from the Willard Center and Homeless Alliance to the municipal warming center at Red Andrews Park will continue.  Public Transit is free for any resident needing transportation to a warming center or shelter.

EMBARK Plus ADA Transportation will maintain normal service.  EMBARK Plus customers are asked to call their destination to verify they are open before making the trip. Customers of EMBARK Mobility Management Services, catering to transportation needs for seniors, should call 405-297-2583 to check if transportation services are being provided.

OKC STREETCAR has temporarily suspended operation of the streetcar vehicles to conserve electricity during low ridership and extreme weather conditions putting demands on energy supply.   Shuttle van service is being provided for anyone at a streetcar platform attempting to use the system.

Get the latest updates on EMBARK winter weather delays and cancelations.

Parks and Recreation

The Parks Department closed all its public facilities and Martin Park Nature Center on Saturday, Feb. 13 and will reopen Wednesday Feb. 17. Will Rogers Gardens Exhibition Center will close on Sunday Feb. 14 and will reopen on Wednesday Feb. 17. Virtual Academy, which is held at multiple community centers will be closed Monday and Tuesday next week.

Municipal Courts

Court sessions have been canceled for Tuesday, Feb. 16 and Wednesday, Feb 17. If you cannot attend your scheduled court date at any time due to the road conditions or weather, please call (405) 297-3898 to reschedule.

EMSA

EMSA continues to respond to medical emergencies in Oklahoma City. EMSA officials thank OKC residents for following advice to stay home off of the roads to allow their crews to safely reach patients and transport them to local hospitals.

As of 2 p.m., EMSA remains very concerned about cold exposure calls in the Oklahoma City area. EMSA medics have responded to 11 cold exposure calls and transported seven patients to the hospitals because of their symptoms today alone. EMSA strongly discourages spending time outside, but if you must be in the freezing temperatures, dress appropriately with multiple layers and proper footwear (tight fitting shoes with grip and traction). They also encourage residents to check on elderly friends, family, and neighbors to make sure they are warm and safe inside their homes.

People experiencing Homelessness

A daytime warming center is open from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 through Friday, Feb. 19 at  Municipal Gym in Red Andrews Park, 720 NW 8. Parks and Recreation employees are staffing the center.

The Homeless Alliance Day Shelter (1729 NW 3rd) will remain open 7-days a week for the next two weeks from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pets are welcome and no ID is required.

Those needing shelter overnight can go to Willard Winter Shelter, 1400 NW 3. Hours are 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. Pets are welcome and nobody will be turned away. If the shelter reaches capacity, guests will be transported to another location that will provide backup capacity.

The Salvation Army (1001 N. Pennsylvania) will be providing winter shelter for women & women with children 24/7 throughout the storm.

The NE OKC Community & Cultural Center (3815 N Kelley) will be open 24-hrs/day.

Those wanting to make donations or volunteer should follow homeokc, Homeless Alliance, Salvation Army, City Rescue Mission and the other organizations previously listed on social media.

City owned lakes closed

All City-owned lake and pond surfaces are temporarily closed to prevent people and their pets from walking out on the ice. This closure prohibits fishing, boating, walking, skating, or any other activity in, or on the surface of a lake and pond.  Unless posted otherwise, the park grounds are not affected by this closure. People who refuse to leave may be subject to a trespassing citation. 

Police

If you are forced to abandon your vehicle, do not leave it in within a lane of traffic or within an intersection. Park it legally off the road or in a parking lot. Officers will use discretion and will not tow your vehicle unless it is a hazard and would likely cause an accident if not removed.

Vehicles left on the road in the designated show routes will be towed to allow snowplows to pass. All abandoned vehicles left on the roadway will be checked for occupants. Unoccupied abandoned vehicles, that have been checked, will be marked by a noticeable piece of yellow or blue tape. There is no need to report an abandoned vehicle that has been marked by yellow or blue tape.  Stranded residents that may need shelter, whether homeless or not, can be reported by calling 911 to check their welfare.  

Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and carry a charger or external battery for your cell phone. If you experience vehicle problems or get stuck, call someone capable of helping with the situation such as a tow truck or 911. 

Power outages should be reported to the respective utility and do not need to be reported to 911. 

Fire

Talk to your children about saying off frozen lakes and ponds. The ice is not thick enough to support weight. Dog owners should not throw sticks or balls on the ice. If your dog goes out on the ice and has a difficult time returning, don’t attempt to rescue it. call 911. Ice often becomes thinner the deeper the water is. 

Animal Welfare

If it is too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

  • Towel dry your pet immediately after they come inside, paying attention to their paws and stomach.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Dog houses without insulation are not enough to protect dogs from hypothermia. Freezing drinking water also poses a risk to pets.

ONG

If you smell a natural gas odor, leave the area immediately then call 911 and 800-458-4251. 

Winter weather tips to help you prepare for the storm:

 Stay on snow routes

Stay home if you can. If you must drive, stay on the City’s snow routes. Visit www.okc.gov/prepare to see the regional snow route map.

Give plow/salt trucks space

Keep about 200 feet between your vehicle and salt/plow trucks.

Accident tracker

Residents can view injury and noninjury accidents on OKC roads by logging on to the City’s accident tracker at www.okc.gov 

Protect Your Pipes

Open cabinet doors below sinks and let faucets drip if temperatures remain below freezing for a day or more. Call (405) 297-3334 if your pipes burst so City crews can shut off water to your home.  Watch this video about protecting your pipes in winter weather.

Keep necessities on-hand

Items for winter storms to add to your disaster kit include additional non-perishable food and water for one or two weeks, extra blankets, coats, gloves, winter hats, and water-resistant boots. Get extra medication, oxygen or other medical supplies if it’s possible you’ll need a refill before the storm’s effects are over.

Turn off sprinklers

Home and business owners are asked to turn off sprinkler systems when the temperature drops below freezing to keep city streets from icing over.

Check on your neighbors

Make sure elderly family members, friends and neighbors are prepared for the storm, and check on them during and after the storm.

Power outages Keep your cell phone charged in case of a power outage. Residents can report power outages at www.oge.com 

Safely Use Alternative Heating Sources

Fires at home are common in the winter because of improper use of dangerous heating sources. Here are some tips from the Fire Department:

  • Make sure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are properly installed in your home. Alarms should be installed inside each sleeping area, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Test your smoke alarms monthly and install fresh batteries twice per year when the time changes.
  • Space heaters need space. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn (furniture, bedding, curtains, etc.) Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Keep all combustible materials away from floor furnaces.
  • Remove any combustibles from central heater closets.
  • Use a metal grate to hold logs inside fireplaces. Use an approved metal or glass screen in front of fireplaces to prevent embers from flying out of the firebox and into the home.
  • Ensure the fire in the fireplace is completely extinguished before going to bed.
  • Have fireplaces inspected and/or cleaned annually by a qualified chimney sweep specialist.
  • Do not place hot fireplace ashes into dumpsters. Place ashes into a sealed metal container and store well away from the home for several days before final disposal.
  • Remember to open the damper before lighting the fireplace.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Use portable generators outside and well away from the home. Position so that fumes and deadly carbon monoxide will not enter the home through doors, windows, or vents.

Dress for the conditions.

Dressing in layers is key, as it not only keeps you warm but allows you to adjust to changing temperatures. Proper gloves, socks and footwear are essential. Choose headwear that keeps your head and ears warm.  Ski masks can also help to warm your neck and warm the air you’re breathing. 

Energy saving tips from ONG

Oklahoma Natural Gas encourages customers to practice simple energy-saving tips and conservation efforts to manage their winter heating bills.  

  • Keep warm, not hot When possible wear additional layers of clothing, consider turning down your thermostat and check your programmable settings.  
  • Seal leaks around doors and windows Apply weatherstripping or caulk to seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors to stop air leaks and prevent energy loss. If that is not an option, you can also cover windows with towels, sheets or plastic to help keep the warm air in your house. 
  • Reduce the temperature on your water heater  Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or put it on the “warm” setting. If your home will be vacant for two days or more, set the dial to the pilot position for even more savings.  
  • Close blinds and curtains This helps keep warm air inside, especially if the sun is not shining. 
  • Change or clean filters  A clean filter on your furnace can lower your energy consumption by 5% to 15%. Dirty filters cost more to use and overwork the equipment. 
  • Hold off on doing chores Doing laundry and washing dishes can both use natural gas to heat the water and your dryer. If you can, wait until the extreme cold weather passes to complete these activities. If you cannot wait, use the cold setting where possible. 
  • Install foam gaskets on electrical switches and outlets Electrical switches and outlets can account for up to 10% of your home’s energy loss.  

Additionally, remember these safety tips:   

  • Never use your stove or oven for home heating.
  • Make sure nothing obstructs a furnace’s air intake and that vents and flues are intact and unblocked to avoid the potential of carbon monoxide poisoning.  
  • When removing ice and snow in the vicinity of meters, vents or flues, do so carefully so as not to cause damage.
  • Leave cabinet doors open, especially those on exterior walls, to reduce the risk of frozen pipes.

Winter Driving

  • If possible, avoid driving while streets are covered in ice and snow.
  • Have your vehicle winterized by a qualified mechanic.
  • Make sure your tires have adequate tread for the conditions.
  • Reduce speeds.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • Allow more time to slow down and stop.
  • Allow more space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Be sure to use your headlights so your car is visible during inclement weather.
  • Watch this video with winter driving tips 

Winter Weather Vehicle Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
  • Compass and road maps
  • Shovel
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Flares
  • Extra clothing to keep dry and gloves
  • Sack of sand or cat litter (for tire traction
  • Tow rope

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