The snow finally came!

It may have taken into a new year for this season’s first spritz of the white stuff, but it happened. With winter in its waning weeks, snow blanketed Southwest Oklahoma Wednesday morning and gave many opportunities for slow play on a snow day.

After flakes began the early morning fall, by daylight, Lawton looked like a bit of a winter wonderland. The National Weather Service reported between 4 to 6 inches of snow draped the majority of the area.

Closures shut down Lawton Public Schools, as well as many neighboring community schools, the Comanche County Courthouse, Fort Sill and even Central Mall. Some of these closures would continue into today.

According to Tiffany Vrska, information director for the City of Lawton, all city youth basketball practices scheduled for today have been cancelled. She asked people to call 580-581-3400 or visit: teamsideline.com/lawton for more information.

City of Lawton services remained up and running. Thanks to the Street Department’s preventative sanding efforts Tuesday afternoon and evening, roadways were drivable for those who weren’t allowed opportunity for a day away from work and school.

But if you had the day off, there was fun to be had. The tradition of hundreds making the trek to Cameron Stadium to slide down its tall incline on makeshift sleds returned. It’s always a welcome sight to see smiling faces whizzing downhill as fast as possible. For many, the races back to the top for another round were almost as fast.

For bigger kids, the toys were a little bit different but the sense of fun was no less. James Malin used a dirt moving track machine to remove snow and ice from his and his neighbors’ driveways on Northwest 40th Street. Malin says his neighbors help each other. His smile showed he was helping himself to a good time. It’s been awhile since he’s been able to use the tool as he did on Wednesday.

Images captured by D’esirae Schneider of Lawton Police Sgt. Christopher Blessing carrying on a snowball fight with her 11-year-old daughter Penelope at their home in the 1300 block of Northwest Elm Avenue were shared throughout local social media groups.

Schneider thought it was “awesome” that the social media sphere caught onto something positive about the local police.

“We loved having him stop by,” she said. “They work so hard for our community. I don’t think they get the respect they deserve. It’s fun seeing them having fun with the kids in our community.”

While there were some vehicles that had trouble moving within the city limits, in-town law enforcement remained in more of an “at the ready” state throughout the day.

However, once you drove the roadways outside of Lawton, travel turned a bit more treacherous.

Responders were called the Southeast Bishop Road, between Railroad and Tower Road, around 1:45 p.m. on the report of a car that had slid off the snow and slush packed roadway and was teetering close to a small pond. Flower Mound Fire Chief Josh Sullivan worked to maneuver a tow chain and move the car just in time as another slid off the road and into a tall drift about 75 yards east of the site.

The Comanche County Sheriff’s Department and Comanche Nation Police had their officers at the scene. With freezing winds scarring faces pink to red from exposure, it was a rough condition to be caught in.

By mid-afternoon, Comanche Nation Police Investigator Kale Kastner said it had already been a long day. Although tribal programs and offices were closed for the day, the Comanche first responders remained ready for action.

“We haven’t been doing anything but moving cars for the past 13 or 14 hours,” he said.

While all the efforts had been for relatively minor incidents with no injuries, Kastner said the majority of the rescues didn’t have to happen.

“Ninety-nine percent of these are preventable,” he said. “Check your tires. If your tires are bad, you’re probably better off staying home.”

Comanche County Emergency Management offered tips for drivers on the slick roadways: slow down, don’t use cruise control and leave plenty of distance between you and other vehicles. If you’re going to travel, you’re encouraged to pack an emergency supply kit, winterize your vehicle, check road conditions, stay mobile and check the National Weather Service forecast.

A commercial vehicle hit the center concrete barrier shortly after 2 a.m. two miles south of the Medicine Park exit on Interstate 44, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Both the northbound and southbound inside lanes were closed to traffic for seven hours until shortly after 9 a.m. to respond for the driver and to investigate the scene and clear up the wreckage.

Due to the weather, Commissioner of Public Safety, as authorized by the governor, non-essential services were reduced at Troop G to serve Caddo, Grady, Comanche, Stephens, Cotton and Jefferson counties, and at Troop M for Jackson, Kiowa, Harmon, Greer and Tillman counties.

As more snow fell Wednesday afternoon, it would continue to look a lot like winter for a little while longer.

Hopefully you have your winter fun saved to the memory banks for now.

Today is expected to reach a high temperature of around 40 degrees by afternoon. By Friday and Saturday, temperatures are forecast to be in the low 50s.

Written by Scott Rains srains@swoknews.com.

Written by Scott Rains srains@swoknews.com.

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