In February of 2011, Tulsa got 22.5 inches of snow.
On February 1, 14 inches of snow fell in Tulsa. The airport was closed. School was canceled. Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties.
So many days were lost to snow that state officials let schools shorten the spring semester.
The low that week was a minus 7 degrees with a windchill of 25 degrees below zero.
City crews put out 640 tons of salt on the roads as traffic came to a standstill. Garbage trucks couldn’t pick up trash. The courthouse was closed. Buses stopped running.
We managed to get the Tulsa Beacon printed that week and delivered on time to the postal center. A drive that normally takes 15 minutes took more than an hour and was treacherous, to say the least, as we passed car after car in a ditch on the side of the arterial streets.
Unfortunately, residential mail delivery was spotty doe to high snowdrifts.
We posted our stories on tulsabeacon.com.
We knew in advance, thanks to Tulsa’s excellent weathermen, that a huge storm was coming. We have an office in our home, so we knew we could continue to work and produce a paper even though the snow and bitter cold tied up transportation for more than a week.
We always keeps a full pantry in our house. From our former camping days, we have a propane camp stove, a propane lantern and plenty of candles. Shortly after this storm, I bought a small gas generator in case of another emergency. We keep extra bottled water on hand.
Fortunately, we never lost electricity in our home. But we have a gas fireplace. A few years ago, I bought a firewood rack for the back yard after we had a tree cut down. It’s full of wood in case our natural gas service isn’t available.
The night before the storm hit, I went to our local Reasor’s Grocery to pick up a few last minute items. All of the carts were being used. The produce section looked more than half empty. It seemed like half the canned goods in the entire store were gone. There was no bread or milk left on the shelves.
It was a shocking sight. I wondered how many people had less than 24 hours’ worth of food in their kitchen.
We had plenty to eat for the duration. When the streets got somewhat passable, I decided to drive two blocks to Reasor’s again to see what I could get. I called my 80-year-old neighbor across the street and asked if I could pick up anything for him and his wife.
He was excited and asked he I could swing by and pick him up. They had not been outside their house, which is good because conditions were horrible. I picked him up and it took us 30 minutes to go two blocks.
As bad as that snowstorm was, it wasn’t nearly as treacherous as the ice storm in Tulsa in December of 2007.
The power lines were caked with ice and people lost power all over the place. Estimates were that 85 percent of Tulsa went dark.
We lost our power. We took the kids into the living room by the fireplace and cooked on our camp stove. We used flashlights, candles and a camp lantern for a few days until the lights came back on.
A different neighbor had a small gas generator and I remember thinking that I needed to get one.
You can walk on snow. You can’t walk safely on ice. You can shovel snow. You can’t do much with ice.
Tulsa doesn’t get much bad weather in terms of snow and ice. It seems like the worst storms hit in March.
The key is to be prepared and stay inside until the worst part passes.
You can be the best driver in the world but so many people don’t have a clue as to how to drive on snow and ice and they will run into you, no matter how careful you are.
So many people eat out a lot these days and as a consequence, they don’t have any food in their home or apartment in case of a problem. Everyone ought to stock some extra canned food, blankets, flashlights, batteries, water and medicine in case of a bad winter storm.
It’s good to keep some emergency supplies in your car along with jumper cables, a cell phone, extra batteries and water. Every winter, it seems like we read stories of people trapped in their cars for several days with nothing to help them survive.
Be prepared. Stay smart. Hunker down.
That’s the best strategy if this is one of those rare winters when Tulsa has a bad ice storm or snow storm.