Winter weather

PSO

A Southwest Power Pool executive told Oklahoma state regulators the corporation is working hard on ensuring an adequate supply of fuel for electricity generators across the 14-state grid it oversees.

City of Tulsa

Cold water, not freezing ground, was one of two major factors in hundreds of water line breaks across the City of Tulsa during February’s winter storms.

City Asset Manager Joan Gausvik told the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority on Wednesday the other factor was pipe material.

"About 50% of our pipe system is cast iron … there were failures in other materials, but cast iron is probably 80% of the failures in this event," Gausvik said.

Stitt Signs Bills To Limit Storm Utility Costs

Apr 23, 2021
File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a pair of bills Friday to mitigate the skyrocketing storm-related utility costs from a February winter storm. The bills were among two dozen measures that Stitt signed into law. He also vetoed two measures. The utility bills authorize the issuance of ratepayer-backed bonds to help offset an estimated $4.5 billion in increased storm-related energy costs.

Oklahoma lawmakers are acting quickly on a plan to help utilities pay off billions of dollars in debt incurred during February’s historic winter storms.

Senate Bills 1049 and 1050 would establish bond-financed, pooled loan programs for unregulated and regulated utilities, respectively. The bills passed the Senate with overwhelming support on Thursday. Lawmakers announced the plan Monday afternoon.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

State lawmakers say they are filing legislation to guard against massive utility bills in the wake of winter storms that put Oklahoma in the deep freeze in February.

Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow) said the measures will set up a process for utility companies to package and sell off their debt from spiking natural gas costs, limiting how much of the impact can be passed along to consumers.

An executive at the Southwest Power Pool told state regulators on Thursday they are conducting a comprehensive review of their response to Feburary’s winter storms, which included rolling blackouts for thousands of Oklahomans during subzero temperatures.

City of Tulsa

City of Tulsa officials said Friday afternoon a voluntary boil order is no longer necessary, and they’re no longer asking people to conserve water.

Crews now have a handle on water line breaks after dealing with more than 400 caused by winter storms. At one point, more than 1,700 homes and businesses were without water.

The city is still using about one-third more water than typical for this time of year. Mayor G.T. Bynum encouraged people to keep checking for broken pipes at their homes.

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The City of Tulsa has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help homeowners make emergency repairs of plumbing damage resulting from almost two weeks of below-freezing temperatures.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available through the Working In Neighborhoods Department for homeowners who meet income guidelines. Applications are available online and must be submitted by March 19. Residents can also call 918-576-5552 to get an application or ask questions.

The White House

President Joe Biden late Wednesday approved Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's second request for federal aid to help address damages caused by this month's winter weather emergency.

"The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties Canadian, Carter, Cherokee, Comanche, Cotton, Hughes, Jefferson, Le Flore, McIntosh, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage, Pittsburg, Stephens, Tulsa, and Wagoner," the White House said in a Thursday morning release.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Tuesday he is seeking a second federal emergency disaster declaration as a result of a winter storm the dropped snow and ice on the state and resulted in subfreezing temperatures and power outages.

Stitt said he is asking President Joe Biden for a declaration for federal aid for homeowners, renters and business owners in all 77 of the state’s counties.

City of Tulsa

State officials are asking Oklahomans and county, municipal and tribal governments to report damages caused and costs incurred during the recent winter weather emergency to support requests for further federal aid.

File photo

Updated Feb. 23, 11:50 a.m. to clarify only unregulated gas utilities may not spread out increased costs.  

State officials said Monday most Oklahomans will not see utility bills in the thousands of dollars after last week’s historic winter storms that plunged the state into subzero temperatures and strained the regional power grid.

City of Tulsa

Crews continued work Monday on dozens of water line breaks across the City of Tulsa, meaning hundreds of people are still without running water.

Officials said 40 crews were at work, and the city's water main breaks dashboard showed 60 active breaks as of 5 p.m. Tulsans are asked to keep conserving water — no washing cars, no running high-use appliances and no long showers.

Police: Tulsa Man Falls Through Ice, Dies In Missouri

Feb 22, 2021
Missouri State Highway Patrol

FORSYTH, Mo. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has died after he and another man fell through the ice on Swan Creek in southwestern Missouri this weekend, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported. 

City of Tulsa

The city of Tulsa on Friday issued guidance recommending residents and businesses impacted by recent major disruptions to municipal water service boil water before consumption after their service resumes.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deadly weather will be hitting the U.S. more often, and America needs to get better at dealing with it, experts said as Texas and other states battled winter storms that blew past the worst-case planning of utilities, governments and millions of shivering residents.

This week’s storms — with more still heading east — fit a pattern of worsening extremes under climate change and demonstrate anew that local, state and federal officials have failed to do nearly enough to prepare for greater and more dangerous weather.

City of Tulsa

Update (10:00 a.m.): The city has announced all Tulsa Fire Department stations will be able to provide residents with water from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. each day until further notice. Residents must bring their own containters.

City of Tulsa officials announced late Wednesday another major disruption in water service for residents, and said they will be opening a distribution center for those without service.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

This story was updated at 9:00 a.m. to reflect that the White House has approved Gov. Stitt's disaster declaration request.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday that he is asking President Joe Biden for a federal disaster declaration due to a winter storm that dumped snow and ice on the state and brought days of subfreezing temperatures and power outages.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued an emergency order late Wednesday telling gas and power companies to prioritize their service during prolonged freezing temperatures.

The order does not direct companies to cut off anyone specifically.

Southwest Power Pool

Officials from the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization that manages the power grid for a territory covering parts of 14 states, including all of Oklahoma, said Tuesday afternoon that more outages could be possible through Thursday.

City of Tulsa

City officials said Wednesday morning that roughly 600 Tulsa homes were without water due to over 120 water main breaks caused by the prolonged extreme cold.

City of Tulsa Water and Sewer Director Clayton Edwards said at a virtual press briefing that normally crews would allow broken mains to keep supplying water to homes and businesses even while waiting to be repaired, but the historic level of breaks has drained the city's municipal water supply to a point where they are now "valving down" entire lines.

With current weather conditions and the potential for blackouts to keep a strained regional power grid from failing, EMSA reported Tuesday it's receiving a 911 call volume that is "not sustainable."

Instead of calling 911, EMSA is asking patients to call their doctors about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines.

Patients should find out how long medication can be stored if their refrigerator or freezer is not running and get specific guidance for any medications and machines needed to keep them alive.

At the direction of the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization that manages the power grid for parts of 14 states including all of Oklahoma, electric companies statewide on Tuesday morning resumed intentional, "controlled" service outages for thousands of customers.

Sgt. Anthony Jones / Oklahoma National Guard

Two days after the Oklahoma National Guard activated personnel to assist the Oklahoma Highway Patrol with severe winter weather response, two soldiers were injured Monday when the driver of a semi-truck struck their Humvee from behind on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Vinita.

National Weather Service Tulsa

Tulsa’s official snowfall total Sunday night was just over 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Get ready for round two. 

"Three to 8 inches of additional snowfall is expected across the region with the next storm that moves in Tuesday through Thursday," NWS Tulsa said in a Monday afternoon weather briefing.

NWS is forecasting 4 to 6 total inches of snow in Tulsa. Forecast snowfall amounts increase south and east of the metro area, with 6 to 8 inches projected in Muskogee, McAlester, and northwest Arkansas. 

With natural gas in short supply for power plants amid a severe winter storm, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission lifted production limits on certain wells in an emergency meeting on Monday.

Limits on top-producing gas wells will be increased from 50% to 100% of open flow for the next 14 days. Public Utility Division Director Brandy Wreath said it won’t entirely alleviate strain on the electric grid, but it will help.

Southwest Power Pool

This is a developing story.

Utility providers say Oklahomans could experience outages, both planned and unplanned, in gas and electric service.

"Persistent and extreme cold weather has led to region-wide electricity use that exceeds available generation across the Southwest Power Pool service territory," said SPP, the regional transmission organization that manages the electric grid in a service area spanning 14 states, including all of Oklahoma, in a statement.

National Weather Service

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.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The winter storm dropping snow and plunging the state into subzero temperatures proved too much for the Oklahoma legislature.

Leaders called off all meetings scheduled for Monday by midday Sunday.

Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) said after lawmakers adjourned to the call of the chair on Thursday leadership would be monitoring conditions over the weekend.

"Obviously, members travel in from various parts of the state. So, we’ll try to be respectful of the time it takes them to get here," Treat said.

Stitt Declares Statewide Emergency Ahead Of Winter Storm

Feb 12, 2021
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt declaring a state of emergency on Friday for all 77 of the state’s counties ahead of a major winter storm expected to push into the state during the weekend.

The declaration suspends requirements for oversized vehicles used for emergency relief and utility restoration. It also activates the state’s Emergency Operations Plan and allows state agencies to make storm-related emergency acquisitions without regard to bidding requirements.

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