POSTED ON FEBRUARY 4, 2009:
Snow Day Mentality
The return of an icy onslaught chills Tulsans to the bone
Cutline for photo: Can You Imagine? Construction personnel working to reconstruct Holy Family Cathedral's steeples hasn't missed a beat since cold weather began this winter.
When Tulsans received word last week that our state would be hit with severe winter weather, many recalled the ice storm of December '07 and took necessary steps to avoid a repeat. Last year, PSO reported that about 226,500 customers were without power, which is 78 percent of the company's Tulsa customers. Last year's storm claimed 29 lives statewide; this year, five were reported.
Fortunately, though, most Tulsans never lost service; but ordinary citizens and businesses alike erred on the side of caution as freezing rain began to fall Monday, January 26.
"Here at PSO we started paying attention to the forecast on the previous Thursday. We were already making contacts for outside resources should we need to bring them in," said Ed Bettinger of the Corporate Communications Department at PSO. "Given the forecast, it could have been a really bad storm for us, so I don't think people overreacted."
Perhaps restaurants, stores and offices shut down because the majority of the city chose to stay indoors and hibernate instead of heading out to lunch or to the post office. Was it even worth it to be open?
By early Monday afternoon, parking lots and sidewalks had become slick and the roads were nearly vacant. Luckily, temperatures dropped sooner than expected, which resulted in sleet. Freezing rain sticks like glue to power lines, whereas sleet just bounces off. "Our situation was looking fairly dire," Bettinger said. "But it's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared."
That day, the Emergency Medical Services Authority responded to more than 30 accidents in one hour; however, no serious injuries were reported in Tulsa. OKC was hit harder, with EMSA responding to about 219 calls, including 75 falls and more than 50 automobile accidents.
Governor Brad Henry declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties. "Oklahomans know all too well that severe winter weather poses serious challenges to everything from roads and power lines to debris removal, and so it is important that we be prepared for the worst," Henry said.
Not surprisingly, Tulsa Public Schools closed on Tuesday. Many people expected conditions to worsen and prepared accordingly- folks were ready to power up their generators and stock their groceries and other provisions. "It seemed like people were definitely paying more attention so soon after a major blow like December '07. People are more sensitized to the possibility of losing power for many days in cold weather," he explained.
By Wednesday, patches of ice began to melt as temperatures climbed back into the 40s. Most Tulsa schools remain closed- with many students not returning to the classroom until Thursday, possibly even Friday.
But, we know how things go around here. On Friday and Saturday, the sun was shining and Tulsans were once again basking in 60-degree weather as the last of the snow and ice trickled away. Fickle weather is the norm for mid-westerners; and abrupt changes in the climate are just one more way for us to embrace Mother Nature's four seasons.
No matter what the temperature outside, though, some Tulsans have jobs that require them to endure extreme heat and cold in their working environments. In light of the recent changes in the weather, we conjured up some jobs we considered to be the hottest and coldest- both literally and metaphorically. If you think we missed someone, email us at email@example.com. But, just for fun, here are our lists:
Hot to Trot
Liquor Store Clerks
Evangelists and Faith Community Workers
Tanning Salon Employees
Musicians, Artists, Entertainers
Produce Company Employees
Cops and Crime Scene Investigators
Ice Sculptors and Skaters
Borden/ Blue Bell/ Braum's Employees
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