Published December 25, 2009 12:15 am -
— A blizzard for the ages plowed through Norman and much of the state Thursday, leaving about a foot of snow on the ground and stranding motorists and emergency responders all over the city.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut down all of the interstates in the state, including Interstate 35 through Norman. At about 5 p.m., law enforcement also barricaded on-ramps to I-35 as vehicles continued to try and access the highway only to get stuck along the way.
At press time, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said the fire department had been on nearly 100 calls, most to help stranded or marooned motorists. Numerous firefighters, police officers and motorists were stuck all over the city, most of them by snow drifts that could stand several feet tall.
According to scanner reports, one officer even had his door frozen open, apparently as he assisted a motorist somewhere in Norman.
Bailey, who's been working in Norman for the past 29 years, said Thursday's blizzard was one of the worst he's seen.
"We had one or two back in the 1980s that were pretty bad, one during the OU-OSU game as I recall," Bailey said. "But it's been a long time since we've seen something like this.
At press time, Bailey said he wasn't aware of any serious injuries or deaths in Norman attributed to the blizzard.
Vanessa Pearson, from Tyler, Texas, called The Transcript newsroom about 6 p.m. Thursday from her vehicle, which was stuck on I-35 south of Norman. She said the road conditions on the interstate weren't any better than those on city streets.
"I've moved maybe a half-mile in two-and-a-half hours," she said. "It's like L.A., Houston, Dallas traffic right now."