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City of Tulsa Shows off Equipment Fleet Ahead of Hard-to-Predict Winter

Matt Trotter

The City of Tulsa’s fleet of winter-weather equipment is ready — but how much is it going to be used?

Weather-influencing water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are neither El Niño warm or La Niña cold this year. They’re neutral.

"Now, the official forecast from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center has equal chances for above, below and near normal temperature and precipitation," said NWS Tulsa Meteorologist in Charge Steve Piltz.

Based on past neutral-cycle winters, Piltz expects winter could be a little warmer and wetter. More moisture could increase chances for snow, but seasonal forecasts are as unpredictable as baseball.

"That ballplayer who comes up to the plate — it’s the end of September, it’s the playoff run and they’re batting .225 — it hasn’t been their big year. So, when they come up in that key role, the odds tip away that, that person is going to do something, but yet what that person actually does depends on the game and the pitcher and everything else. And they can still hit the home run," Piltz said.

While the seasonal forecast is uncertain, City of Tulsa officials said they're ready for any icy, snowy conditions. Streets and Stormwater Director Terry Ball said it helps that they’ve received some new equipment in the past year, and the recently approved Improve Our Tulsa renewal will keep that trend going.

"That truck that the mayor put his foot through is no longer with us. It’s gone on to a better life, so. The goal is just to keep continually replacing that equipment and be able to prepare and respond better," Ball said.

Mayor G.T. Bynum tweeted a photo of himself early this year sitting in the cab of a city truck with his foot through a hole in the rusted-out floorboard.

The city's winter resources include 66 truck-mounted salt spreaders, four truck-mounted brine applicator systems, 57 total snowplows and 170 workers. The city focuses on clearing major streets in winter weather events before moving to select residential areas.

Spreading and plowing route maps are available online.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.