By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
High winds and heavy snow are expected to hit Stillwater and Payne County on Tuesday, potentially causing blizzard conditions.
With a forecast of 36 mph winds and nearly nine inches of snow over the next two days, city and school officials prepared for the worst. Oklahoma State University canceled Monday classes and most events after 12:30 p.m., including the Big Orange Bus system. Transit buses in the city shut down at 2 p.m.
OSU Housing and Residential Life Director Matthew Brown said food services, information technology, power plant, police, grounds and some residential staff would remain on campus throughout the storm to make sure essential services continued, including meals, power and communications.
“Even though campus is closed we keep a substantial crew,” Brown said.
Stillwater Transportation Department Manager Jason Peek said city employees were sent home in waves on Monday so many could return later to help deal with the storm. Sand, salt and plowing vehicles are prepped and available, Peek said.
“If you don’t need to drive, stay home,” Peek said, noting the wind and snow could create poor visibility on roads.
According to the city, major roads and emergency routes are cleared first, followed by minor arterials and streets that have high traffic. Clearing access to Stillwater Medical Center’s emergency room, fire stations and Oklahoma State University are the first priority. Principal arterials include sections of Main Street, Duck Street, Boomer Road, Washington Street and downtown Stillwater. Small residential streets and driveways are not cleared as the city does not have the resources.
The city has two sand trucks, four plowing vehicles and several dump trucks with salt, Peek said.
Stillwater Public Schools did not close on Monday.
“We understand childcare is a concern and we are continuing to monitor conditions throughout the morning,” said Public Information Officer Kellee Brown in an email to parents. “Please plan to be flexible and know that our goal is to keep our students safe while minimizing disruption of daily family schedules.”
Stillwater Regional Airport did not have any plans to close.
Airport Director Gary Johnson said crews will monitor the situation and would close if snow becomes deep enough to affect arrivals and departures. Johnson said OSU basketball teams are scheduled to fly out of the airport Tuesday, giving crews plenty of time to have runways clear.
Residents got an early jump on preparing for the storm. IGA Consumers Office Manager Michael Allen said customers began stocking up on milk, bread, eggs, canned food and other basic supplies on Sunday.
He said the store saw steady shopping for supplies on Monday.