jnnoice

Most local drivers are glad they had to face this – a big splash of water on the road, and occasional downpours of rain – and not what many others in Oklahoma had to experience Monday: the frozen version.

Much of Oklahoma is experiencing the grueling effect of a weekend ice storm that blasted through the state Sunday, but most of Cherokee County escaped the ice.

Though some residents of northern Cherokee County reported Monday morning that they awoke to a thick sheet of ice on their vehicles, the majority of the area had only received mist, rain, lightning and thunder, and occasional sleet the day before.

Roads remained wet throughout Monday in Tahlequah and to the east, south and west, according to residents from those areas.

According to the National Weather Service-Tulsa, the area could experience 3/4- to 1-inch rainfall today with a high near 53, and a low tonight of approximately 35. Chances of rain will continue through Wednesday evening.

Hamid Vahdatipour, CEO of Lake Region Electric Cooperative, said Monday morning that the LREC distribution system sustained damage from the ice storm in Wagoner County.

"We also have a concentrated area of power outage near Locust Grove and near Inola," Vahdatipour said. "The outages did not start [until] early Monday morning, about 3 a.m. We are in the process of assessing the total damage in order to estimate the restoration time period. The preliminary estimates indicated that it could be Wednesday before everyone who can safely receive power be restored."

Monday, 1,300 customers were without power, and Vahdatipour estimated that number will increase.

"Our main focus has been to restore power to the main distribution feeders," he said. "Upon the completion of this task, the service personnel will continue to branch out from substations to remove trees from lines and replace broken poles and wires. All of LREC's 60 feeders out of the substations are now energized. Our efforts will now be concentrated on large, three-phase lines and housing additions."

Any customer without power should contact the LREC office at (918) 772-2526 or 1-800-364-5732 to report the outage.

Vahdatipour noted that any damage suffered between the meter and a house or business is the responsibility of the LREC member.

"Those damages should be repaired by the member before the power could be restored to them," said Vahdatipour.

Counties to the north and west of Cherokee County weren't so fortunate. According to the Associated Press, the ice storm knocked out power to more than 300,000 homes and businesses and led to traffic accidents that killed 12 people. Tulsa International Airport was without power Monday, shutting down all incoming or outgoing flights. Officials believed it could be two days before power is restored.

The AP also reported what Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph called "one huge cluster of an accident" on Interstate 40 west of Okemah Sunday evening. Eleven vehicles, including a tractor-trailer rig, were involved, and four people died as a result of the crash. All 11 vehicles burned, according to the AP.

Schools and church services across the state were closed Monday, and many are likely to remain closed for days due to power outages and slick road conditions.

Cherokee County was under an ice-storm warning by the NWS until Monday at 6 p.m.

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