By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Another round of winter weather in Oklahoma arrived just in time for the winter solstice, leaving a couple thousand in the county without power and crews cleaning up tree limbs because of the ice.
OG&E spokesperson Karen Kurtz reported about 1,300 without power in Norman Saturday afternoon with an additional 500 power outages in Noble and 130 in Moore.
“We do have crews working in the area to get everyone restored and get (power) up as quickly and safely as we possibly can,” Kurtz said.
Many of the power outages were scattered throughout Norman with causes ranging from lines down, circuits out and some transformer issues, she said.
If there is anyone with their power out, Kurtz encouarged them to call OG&E at 405-272-9595 with a reminder to not touch anything and let crews handle the situation.
OEC communications specialist Patti Rogers said they had about 2,000 people without power and have lost a few electric poles due to the ice.
“The ice is taking down the lines and bringing trees down into the lines,” Rogers said. “(Power) went out last night and has been out all day today.”
Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said they had been responding to a lot of ice-related calls due to the power lines and trees.
“The road not being frozen is fantastic,” Bailey said. “It doesn’t appear to be as significant as the ice storm in 2007 so we were fortunate it didn’t get quite as cold as the weather service was talking about.”
Bailey said the fire department had not responded to more medical calls than usual.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Ken Gallant said they expect the Norman area received close to an inch of accumulation from the freezing rain.
More freezing rain and light snow was expected to continue Saturday night ending sometime around midnight.
Sunday was expected to remain cold with highs in the low 30s, but no precipitation is expected for Sunday or the rest of the week, Gallant said. Monday temperatures are expected to be in the mid 30s and Tuesday through the rest of the week highs in the 40s are expected, he said.
Warm road temperatures didn’t allow much of the ice to stick so vehicle collisions were not a big problem Friday and Saturday. Norman Police Capt. Tom Easley said from midnight Friday until Saturday afternoon police only responded to about 18 crashes.
“That’s pretty much no different than any other day,” Easley said.
Lt. Eric Lehenbauer, supervision officer on Saturday, said many of the accidents he would characterize as “fender benders”.
“Quite honestly I don’t know if it’s any worse than a normal day,” Lehenbauer said.
With the roads wet, he said motorists should still be cautious making sure to slow down and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, especially on overpasses and bridges.
Shawn O’Leary, City of Norman director of public works, said their biggest concern from the winter weather was the trees.
“There’s lots of weight and lots of ice on the trees, but it’s not nearly what we’ve seen in the past,” O’Leary said. “We’re starting to see major tree limb damage with limbs blocking roads and causing other nuisances, but reports are very favorable for Norman.”
O’Leary said it looks like Norman will get through the weather event without any major issues and are currently running crews 24 hours.
“We’re prepared for whatever happens,” he said. “Our biggest enemy right now is the rain.”
Cleveland County Commissioners Rusty Sullivan and Darry Stacy said the county roads have faired well with the exception of tree limbs.
“Guys have been up since 3 this morning clearing roads and sanding,” Stacy said. “I would caution people of the low lying limbs that will continue breaking off. Go slow. Someone could easily come over a hill and there could be a tree limb down in the middle of the road.”
Sullivan said with temperatures warming up enough on Saturday the roads are safe, but as temperatures lower overnight if it freezes people will need to be more careful.
If anyone in the county sees something potentially dangerous, the commissioners encouraged people to call them and let them know so they can get it taken care of.
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