Airlines canceled flights Friday in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in anticipation of a storm that threatened to dump ice across a wide swath of the state.
An ice storm warning was issued until 6 a.m. Sunday by the National Weather Service for central and southwestern Oklahoma and until 6 p.m. Saturday for the northeastern portion of the state. The forecast called for up to a half-inch of ice accumulation in the state's midsection from the border in the southwest with the Texas Panhandle to the northeastern corner that abuts Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.
"We're looking at significant ice accumulation along the Interstate 44 corridor. Probably the worst conditions, for driving, will probably remain north of I-44," said National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Hodges in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management began planning for the storm Friday morning, said spokeswoman Keli Cain.
"The state EOC (Emergency Operations Center) is activating with key personnel from emergency management on duty 24 hours," Cain said. The agency will be in contact with agencies such as the National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Red Cross and other emergency response officials, Cain said.
The state Department of Transportation was also mobilizing trucks to prepare to salt and sand roadways, according to spokeswoman Kenna Carmon.
"Things are still very fluid depending on how the storm develops. Here in Tulsa County alone there will be about 45 trucks that will be out," Carmon said.
Spokeswoman Karen Carney at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City said about a dozen arrivals were cancelled for Friday night, although no departures were immediately affected.
"Some of it is just in anticipation, some of it is just positioning aircraft," by airlines who don't want their aircraft to be stuck at an airport where it cannot depart, Carney said.
Tulsa International Airport was buzzing with air travelers, airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins said.
"We're hoping that whatever weather is out there will stay to the north of us and we'll just have the rain event. That's what we're asking for Christmas," Higgins said.
The airport's website showed about a dozen cancellations.
Carney encouraged travelers and those expecting to meet flights to check the airlines, which make the decision on whether to cancel a flight.
"People are so emotional, and they come out here just hoping that the flight will land or take off, even when it's already been canceled," Carney said.
Hodges, the meteorologist, said the storm wasn't expected to be as severe as the Dec. 5 storm, which brought ice, sleet, freezing rain and snow to the state and was blamed for 10 deaths.
In Vinita, Diamond Rio Convenience Store owner Gary Mills said the only impact of the pending storm that he could see is from fuel sales.
"We're getting a lot gas customers. Being a convenience store, I get a lot or people filling up their cars before the weather hits."
James Allen, a customer from Vinita, said he wasn't overly worried, but that he plans to limit his travel.
"To a grocery store and back home. I just needed some gas for my truck and cigarettes," Allen said. "Right now, I don't think it's going be that bad. Might be a little bit of ice and snow, but I think it'll melt off in a couple of days."