The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 20, 2013

Travel being discouraged in Enid, northwest Oklahoma

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Law enforcement officials are advising against unnecessary travel, as heavy snowfall in northwest Oklahoma beings to stick to roadways. Chances of snow are at 100 percent today and tonight, according to National Weather Service.  

Cancellations are beginning to come in, with Northwestern Oklahoma State University calling off classes for the day Wednesday, First Baptist Church of Enid and Zion Lutheran Church in Lahoma canceling Wednesday activities. Call 548-8140 or email enidnews@enidnews.com to report cancellations. Check facebook.com/enidnews for information, as well. To stay up-to-date on cancellations and news alerts, sign up for texts at enidnews.com.

Enid Police Department Sgt. Justin Hodges said the department already worked two, possibly three, weather-related crashes this morning. No injuries were reported.

“It’s getting bad out here,” Hodges said. “Visibility is down to about a quarter mile at most. Roadways are becoming extremely slick and hazardous.”

He advised motorists to “avoid travel if you can.” He advised those who must travel are advised to do so with caution.

“If you have to get out be sure to have your headlights on, drive slow and pay attention to the people in front of you. Allow for extra distance between vehicles,” Hodges said. “Don’t be taking on the phone. Avoid all distractions and concentrate on driving.”

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said his department has received a few calls this morning concerning cars sliding off into bar ditches and a few traffic control devices being run over.

He said some roads in the county were becoming “slick in spots.”

“Drive defensively, drive under the speed limit,” Niles advised. “Make sure they have a greater distance between the vehicle in front of them. Make sure they have a full tank of gas.”

Oklahoma Highway Patrol is discouraging travel in the area.

Woods, Alfalfa, Grant and Major counties are slick and hazardous, according to Troop J. Garfield, Blaine and Kingfisher counties are slick in spots.

“Winter precipitation continues to fall and conditions are expected to worsen through the day,” according to the Department of Public Safety’s website. “Travel is discouraged.”

Chance of precipitation throughout today is 100 percent in the Enid area, with the National Weather Service forecasting moisture in the form of rain, snow and possibly sleet.

Total daytime accumulation is listed at 1-2 inches for the area, but snow falling since before 6 a.m. already had dumped that much over Enid.

According to  Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Emergency Management for Enid and Garfield County, " ... we have had anywhere from 2.5 inches here at the station to 3 inches being reported from VAFB (Vance Air Force Base). We have a fairly heavy band coming through the area right now. After this band comes through we can expect a lull in the activity for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. Later today, we may see another wave come through the area giving us a good chance for more heavy snow. The forecast is very tricky due to the warming and cooling temps aloft. It looks like our temps will stay at or near freezing so we’ll just continue to receive snow. A degree or 2 difference will result in sleet/ freezing rain or continued snow. This could change at any time so pay close attention if you are out and about."

The moisture is expected to last throughout the day, evening and into Thursday, according to NWS.

Rain is expected tonight, possibly mixed with freezing rain and sleet before midnight, when it will switch mainly to freezing rain and snow. Chances for moisture are 100 percent for the area, according to NWS meteorologists.

The low will dip into the upper-20s, with a gusty east-southeast wind. Little ice accumulation is expected, but snow will continue to pile up due to the lower temperatures.

Thursday calls for an 80 percent chance of rain and snow, possibly mixed with freezing rain before noon, and a high of 37.

Thursday night will become partly cloudy with a low around 14.

Temperatures will stay at the freezing mark for a high Friday before rebounding to 45 Saturday and 53 Sunday, according to NWS.

The next chance for rain or snow is 30 percent Sunday night.

Conditions Wednesday morning were worsening in the western most part of the state and Panhandle.

Roadways in Cimarron and Texas counties are wet and slick in spots, according to Troop I.

“Be careful on bridges and overpasses,” according to the DPS site. “Sleet and snow are being reported in Texas, Beaver, Harper, Ellis and Woodward counties.

“Road conditions in Beaver, Harper, Ellis and Woodward are slick and hazardous with snow starting to stick to the roadways.”

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning and a winter weather advisory for parts of Oklahoma as a storm system makes its way through the state.

A winter storm advisory is in effect Wednesday and into Thursday for northern two-thirds of Oklahoma. A warning is in effect for the Panhandle and parts of far northwestern Oklahoma. Garfield County remains under the advisory.

For the latest conditions of Oklahoma roads, highways and Interstate highways, call (405) 425-2385.Staff writer Violet Hassler contributed to this story.