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Promises, Promises

February 10, 2019 - 00:00
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70-degree forecast turns into dangerous wintry mix

  • Article Image Alt Text
    SEAT BELTS SAVE lives is the caption that Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Bill Reitz suggested for this photo of a car struck by a semi tractor-trailer on an icy bridge on S.H. 51 east of Hennessey Wednesday morning. A shaken, but uninjured driver walked away

Both Punxsutawney Phil’s official Groundhog Day prediction of an early spring and state meteorological forecasts of 70-degree temperatures failed to materialize as a winter system Wednesday brought thunderstorms, hail, sleet and ice to various parts of the county.

Wednesday’s morning fog turned into a nighttime thunderstorm, coating the ground in the southern part of the county with hail that remained on the ground due to freezing temperatures.

Ice- and sleet-glazed streets and overpasses caused greeted motorists Thursday morning, contributing to several crashes. The sun popped out Thursday and ice began to melt, but the ongoing cold snap caused another refreezing overnight.

Ice on power lines also started causing spotty electrical outages as it started melting and lines began to “gallop.”

Jeff Hyatt, chief operating officer for Cimarron Electric Cooperative in Kingfisher, said crews were on the scene Thursday morning to alleviate and prevent outages.

He reported the icing problems were not widespread and were worse west of Kingfisher toward Watonga.

A few outages occurred Wednesday evening in the Marshall-Covington area but they weren’t thought to be weather related, Hyatt said.

He said the freezing rain began to fall after midnight Wednesday.

State highway department workers went to work early Thursday sanding bridges and intersections.

A receptionist at the District 4 Oklahoma Department of Transportation office north of Kingfisher said she arrived at work at 1 a.m. Thursday and was greeted by road crew members.

City of Kingfisher spokespersons said that no serious problems had been reported in Kingfisher.

Kingfisher Police Chief Dennis Baker said no traffic problems had occurred Thursday morning.

“But this is typical; people are cautious when ice first arrives and then become overconfident after a day or two and begin driving too fast,” he said.

“Then they have more ‘go’ than ‘whoa,’ and that’s when most accidents happen” he said.

“I hope this goes away quickly,” he added.

The local forecast calls for warmer highs -  in the 40s Friday and Saturday, which would help melt the ice cover.

However, Baker pointed out that the forecast called for a 70 degree high on Wednesday when the day stayed cloudy and cold.

Local motorists traveling through Okarche Wednesday evening reported seeing hail. Hail also was reported by residents east of Kingfisher.

Lightning, accompanied by thunder, filled the skies Wednesday evening prior to the arrival of freezing rain followed by light sleet.

Kingfisher County was on the back edge of the system that brought the ice.

The Kingfisher Mesonet station, located at the Mueggenborg farm west of Kingfisher, did not show measurable rainfall but state Mesonet stations showed .26 inch at El Reno and .17 inch at Guthrie.

Heavier rainfall amounts were reported east and south of Kingfisher with the heaviest amount, 1.52 inches, at Idabel in far southeastern Oklahoma.

Kingfisher residents woke up to a 12 degree temperature reading Friday.

Kingfisher Weather Observer Steve Loftis reported .25 inch of moisture at the National Weather Station in Kingfisher from the Wednesday night and Thursday morning rain-ice event.