- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A second powerful blizzard in a week roared through parts of the nation’s midsection on Wednesday, bringing biting winds and dumping more than a foot of snow on areas still digging out from last week’s major storm.

As the system barreled through the Plains toward the Deep South, it blanketed parts of northeastern Oklahoma under a new layer of snow, dropping 16 inches on the town of Pawhuska, 14 inches on nearby Eucha and more than a foot on the town of Bartlesville, officials said.

By 9 a.m. Wednesday, Tulsa had received 4.5 inches of new snow, putting it just two-tenths of an inch from matching its seasonal record of 25.6 inches set in the 1923-24 season. Last week’s record 14-inch snowfall kept students out of school for at least six days and made many roads in the state’s second-largest city impassable, and garbage pickup had only just resumed.

Dean Guay, 23, was travelling from Boston to California for a job when his bus was forced to stop for the night in Tulsa. He and other passengers spent the night at a Red Cross shelter at the Crosstown Church of Christ.

“Everything thing was going fine until Oklahoma; then it went crazy,” said Mr. Guay, who hopes to reach California by Friday or Saturday.

Chris Pletter, was on the same bus, but getting off in Arizona. He said he expects it’ll be three or four days before he can leave.

“I’m glad we’re in good hands here. If it wasn’t for the Red Cross, we’d be on the streets now,” he said.

The storm dropped close to a foot of snow on parts of hilly northwest Arkansas, including 9 inches in Siloam Springs, said Michael Lacy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa. He said strong winds created blizzard conditions that limited visibility and made travel hazardous.

Heavy snow was reported in parts of Kansas and Texas, where many school districts cancelled classes. And winter storm warnings were issued for an area stretching from northern Louisiana to Georgia, where a blizzard last month paralyzed Atlanta for days.

Oklahoma lawmakers in their first week of the legislative session cancelled their work until next week in anticipation of the storm. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol was discouraging all travel statewide.

Road crews in Arkansas were treating the streets Tuesday in anticipation of snow that forecasters warned would choke highways, disrupt work and likely extend the stretch of cancelled school days in northwest Arkansas to nearly two weeks. Some educators fear that the missed days are eating into time they need to prepare students for annual state benchmark exams in April.

“We’re all very antsy to get back in class,” said Gravette Public Schools Superintendent Andrea Kelly, whose 1,757-student district last held classes Jan. 31.

School districts across northwest Kansas called off classes Tuesday, and several universities closed early.

By Wednesday morning, 17 inches of snow had fallen in Newton, 15 inches in Coffey and 14 inches in Wilson, the National Weather Service said. As the storm moved out of Kansas, temperatures were expected to drop into the teens in the state, making the coming weekend’s forecast of temperatures in the mid-40s seem downright balmy.

In Texas, classes were canceled for students in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Amarillo school districts. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport canceled about 120 departures. Spokesman David Magana said the airport anticipated operating a full schedule later Wednesday, when conditions were expected to improve.

As the storm moves into the Deep South later Wednesday, it was expected to dump up to 5 inches of snow on northwest Mississippi and an inch or less around Atlanta, enough to snarl traffic and cause closures in a region traditionally short of salt trucks and plowing equipment.

In Oklahoma, several inches of snow remained unplowed in many Tulsa neighborhoods Tuesday, and abandoned cars and trucks still littered local roads. As some of the snow melted over the weekend, dozens of water mains broke throughout the city, causing flooding and even more street closures.

There was progress, though: Mail delivery and city buses had returned to many neighborhoods, and trash collection began again Monday. Supermarkets that were picked clean earlier had bread, milk and juice on the shelves again.

City workers kept up their 12-hour shifts working to clear the mess from last week’s storm. Plows were dispatched to residential neighborhoods to haul away snow, and fire trucks were ordered to drive through neighborhoods to pack down snow. The city, which had been criticized for its response to the storm, also announced that it was bringing in contractors to help speed up snow removal.

Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa provided some help for homebound people who might be affected by Tuesday’s storm, delivering a week’s worth of food to a couple hundred of the program’s most vulnerable residents.

“I think when people did get out,” city spokeswoman Michelle Allen said, “they realized the severity of the snow we received.”

Associated Press writers Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kan.; Tom Parsons in Little Rock, Ark.; and Rochelle Hines in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.


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