- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The winter storm that dumped several inches of snow and sleet throughout a huge swath of Oklahoma on Tuesday snarled some traffic and closed schools yet again.

But the moisture from the snowfall proved beneficial for one group of Oklahomans: farmers and ranchers who have suffered through countless drought patterns, parched land and withered crops.

The National Weather Service said a large section of Oklahoma could see 3 to 6 inches of snow or freezing rain.

A winter storm warning was in effect until Tuesday evening for northern Oklahoma, and forecasters said that part of the state could see 6 to 10 inches of snow.

Many schools canceled classes, including the Oklahoma City district, and more than two dozen districts in northeast Oklahoma either closed or opened late.

The state’s drought-stricken ranchers, meanwhile, were holding out hope of seeing even more moisture.

At Greg Leonard’s 1,500-acre farm in Afton in the northeastern part of the state, snow had been falling Tuesday for more than an hour, with no letting up in sight.

Leonard, who farms corn, wheat and soybeans, said the snow was helping replenish his ponds for his cattle and moisten vegetation, which he said will cut down on the risk of wildfires that spark up when it gets windy, like so many did last week throughout the state.

“This is a positive thing for agriculture,” Leonard said.

In the southeast part of the state near Ada, more than two inches of snow had fallen Tuesday on Billy Gibson’s 2,000-acre grass ranch, and the longtime rancher said his and other parched properties here needed much more moisture to blunt years of stubborn drought.

“We need four to five inches of good, solid heavy rain to get some runoff water,” he said Tuesday. In snow terms, that would equal about two and a half feet, Gibson estimated.

Every little bit helps, he said, but he added he already was looking ahead to spring rains to make up the difference.

“Hopefully we’ll get some runoff water then,” he said.

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