By Conrad Dudderar
An estimated 5 to 7 inches of snow and sleet fell steadily over two straight days this week before skies finally started clearing Friday morning in a winter storm that shut down much of Yukon.
The first major snowfall this winter began about 2 p.m. Wednesday and ended shortly before midnight. The wintry precipitation picked back up early Thursday and continued throughout the day before finally concluding overnight Friday.
The City of Yukon and its snowplow contractor, Blue Rock General, had crews out before daybreak Thursday clearing the city’s main streets to make them passable for motorists.
“We have our contract snowplows and city snowplows out and taking care of our roads,” Mayor Shelli Selby said Thursday afternoon. “We do have some power outages, but OG&E is out working in full force.”
Despite the snow and chilly conditions, Yukon sanitation crews were running regular trash routes Thursday and Friday.
All City of Yukon offices and facilities shut down early Wednesday and remained closed Thursday and Friday.
“The police station is currently serving as a warming station for anyone in need of warmth or for charging electronics,” Mayor Selby said. “If you can, please stay home and stay safe.”
On Wednesday night, Yukon Police had to deal with power outages and downed phone lines.
“We had a lot of people call us to check on their loved ones and elderly family members,” Maj. Matt Fairchild said. “That occupied most of our responses Wednesday night.”
Then on Thursday – and even more so Friday morning – officers helped Yukon motorists who had gotten stuck on the road.
“We pushed people out and got a lot of people who were stranded in their cars to safer, warm places,” Maj. Fairchild added. “There were a few accidents but nothing major. For the most part, people stayed inside. So that helped a lot.”
Yukon residents handled this week’s winter storm well because it was primarily snow instead of ice, Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt said.
“We didn’t have a lot of power line issues, although that first night, we did have some power outages,” he said. “Our guys have had some public assistance calls with people stuck and having issues getting out of their driveways.
“We try to help if we can.”
Yukon’s first responders are prepared for the next few mornings when roads are expected to ice over. The forecast shows low temperatures will remain in the teens with a wind chill advisory in effect.
“We ask people to be cautious, especially early in the morning,” Maj. Fairchild said Friday. “City crews are still out working on clearing the roads this morning.”
Much of the trouble has occurred along “county” roads around Yukon.
“A lot of the people outside of town can’t even leave their houses because the snowdrifts are so high on the roads,” Fairchild added. “That’s where a lot of cars were getting stuck this morning. I’d caution people about driving in those areas.
“In town, you’re pretty much OK. For the most part.”
SCHOOLS, COUNTY OFFICES CLOSED
The National Weather Service in Norman issued winter storm warnings many times for Canadian County between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3 due to snow and sleet accumulations, temperatures in the teens and wind chills as low as 10 degrees below zero.
“Significant travel problems expected,” the warning read. “The cold wind chills could result in hypothermia in a short amount of time if precautions are not taken.”
Wintry conditions challenged residents in most neighborhoods and made routes difficult to navigate for many motorists.
Yukon Public Schools’ sites were closed, and all activities were canceled Wednesday through Friday for three snow days due to road conditions and severe weather.
“No employees should report to work unless otherwise instructed by their immediate supervisor,” according to the district’s social media posts. “Stay safe and warm.”
Canadian County government offices also were closed for business Wednesday through Friday due to inclement weather.
The county’s essential employees were required to “check in with their chain of command for essential coverage”, Canadian County Emergency Manager Andrew Skidmore said.