Winter Storm Continues For Green Country With Snow And Extreme Low Temperatures

Feb 15, 2021

The Tulsa area has entered a second week of severe winter weather, with snow, heavy winds and record-breaking low temperatures.

"Winds will remain breezy from the north today, and with highs in the single digits across all but far southeast Oklahoma and the Arkansas River Valley, dangerously low wind chills will remain a problem through today and tonight," the National Weather Service Tulsa office said Monday morning. "Current values are approaching 30 below zero near the Kansas border," with Tulsa reaching 21 degrees below zero.

More than 4 inches of snow fell from the snow that began Sunday, and a total of 1 to 3 more was possible over the course of Monday in Green Country, the NWS said.

City of Tulsa Street Maintenance Manager Tim McCorkell said at a Monday morning press conference that Tulsans should avoid traveling if at all possible, but their plow crews are rendering roads passable.

"We'll continue plowing throughout the day and into the evening," he said. "Right now, I mean, the roads are passable if you take your time, unless you're in a small, low-riding car, they're tough in some places, but for the most part people are getting around at this time."

According to a city news release, crews were responding to 40 waterline breaks on Monday morning.

Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA) Executive Director Joe Kralicek said to take the extreme cold seriously.

"The cold is life-threatening. I can not stress this enough: Going out in this weather is literally going to be risking your life," Kralicek said.

He said leaving residents leaving their homes for any reason for any amount of time should dress in layers as though they're prepared to stay outside for hours.

"EMSA has responded to hundreds of calls over the last week of people who thought they were just going to go out for a very short time, maybe walk out to the mailbox, and they slip and fall and they're outside for far longer than they intended to be," he said.

Kralicek also warned of two hazards involving freezing water. Residents should leave taps running and open any doors underneath sinks to avoid frozen water pipes, an issue he said had prompted at least 50 service requests so far.

The other hazard is the allure of walking on frozen bodies of water or swimming pools.

"Walking on ice -- on iced ponds, iced creeks -- is suicidal right now," he said. "Do not do it. Do not take your children out there."

"It is dangerous. It is not at all a safe or a secure thing to do," he said, explaining temperatures have not been cold enough for long enough for frozen surfaces to bear weight.

Street crews and emergency responders are also preparing for more snowfall, with McCorkell saying the latest forecast he had seen called for 3 to 6 inches beginning Tuesday evening.

The NWS said Monday morning that a winter storm watch will be issued and in effect from 6:00 p.m. Tuesday to 6:00 a.m. Thursday.