The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The predicted winter one-two-three punch of sub-freezing temperatures, sleet and snow materialized in Norman shortly after noon Thursday, slowing traffic and forcing a number of school and event closings.
The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Moore, Blanchard, Little Axe and Noble Public schools are all closed today due to the winter weather.
OU will provide updates about Monday’s operations on Sunday.
All NPS events scheduled for today have been canceled, as have all Moore Public Schools’ and Noble Public Schools’ activities for today and Saturday. For more information, visit norman.k12.ok.us/index.php?activity-cancellations, mooreschools.
com or nobleps.com.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz said starting around midnight today, Norman residents can expect snow that won’t start to let up until about 7 or 8 a.m., with some flurries lingering until mid-morning.
Kurtz said the afternoon should remain mostly dry.
Norman Police Capt. Tom Easley said Thursday patrol officers began responding to injury accidents only. Motorists involved in non-injury collisions should exchange information and can pick up the appropriate form from the police department later, he said.
From noon to 3 p.m. Thursday, police responded to eight wrecks, including six non-injury and two injury collisions.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials reported an influx of accidents as soon as the bad weather moved in, but they have been able to respond to all calls so far.
“We’ve been busy as all get out. As this stuff started moving in, we’ve had crash after crash,” Lt. Brian Orr said.
Orr said the wrecks have been pretty widespread throughout the metro areas and even the surrounding counties. However, troopers are handling road conditions well and are still responding to both injury and non-injury collisions.
Orr said troopers will continue to respond to non-injury wrecks, unless they get an extremely high volume of them.
“If you can stay home, stay home. If you have to get out, slow down, keep plenty of space between you and the other vehicle,” he said.
Motorists traveling on state roads also should remember that *55 dials directly to the highway patrol.
Orr said motorists should travel with a safety kit including a blanket, flashlight and a bottle of water.
Cleveland County Sheriff’s officials said deputies are patrolling throughout the county and responding to any calls for service. County road crews began spreading sand mixtures throughout rural intersections Thursday.
“As the storm continues to move through the county, people should avoid travel if possible. If anyone has to get out, please drive slow and have a cell phone and car charger with you,” said Meghan McCormick, CCSO public information officer.
McCormick said as of 4 p.m. Thursday, they have not seen an influx of wrecks due to road conditions. She also advised people to make sure their vehicle has plenty of fuel before setting out for their destination.
Norman city crews went on alert early Thursday morning and started pre-treating bridges and intersections.
“We are in a 24-hour operations,” Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said.
Two 12-hour shifts of 25 staff members will work on roads round the clock to keep city streets safe and passable.
“For us, pre-treating is a sanding and salting operation — usually salting at this temperature in the most vulnerable areas. That’s been going on all day,” O’Leary said Thursday evening.
At this time, Norman does not have the “liquid process” for treating streets that Oklahoma City uses. Norman streets are priorities, and treatment and grading are systematic.
“We have a snow route map system that we designate as primary and secondary routes,” O’Leary said. “At this stage of the storm, we’re hitting the primary routes, which are about 90 miles of city streets.”
Snow plows and motor graders will clear the streets of accumulated snow and ice.
“We’re planning for four inches of snow-sleet mix,” O’Leary said. “We’re planning on a full snow plow operation.”
O’Leary said four inches is pretty manageable if it’s snow without an ice cover, and he anticipates that primary routes will be passable today.
“We coordinate very closely with our partners — ODOT, Norman Public Schools, Cleveland County and OU — they each have their own operations,” he said.
While many public buildings closed early Thursday, Norman city offices remained open until 5 p.m. Norman city offices will remain open today, but the county courthouse will be closed.
“The around-the-clock nature of city services and the need to meet ongoing service requests dictates that staff in all areas are available as weather circumstances will allow,” Norman City Manager Steve Lewis said.
The city has traditionally been open during weather events to respond to residents and provide services.
“We were open during the major ice storm in 2007,” Lewis said.
The regular Friday Cornbread and Beans luncheon sponsored by the Cleveland County Democratic Party has been canceled.
Compiled by Transcript staff writers Joy Hampton, Katie Parker and Jessica Bruha.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.