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Death toll from winter storm up to at least 5 in Oklahoma

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Modified: December 25, 2009 at 8:45 pm •  Published: December 25, 2009

At least five deaths can be attributed so far to the winter storm that walloped Oklahoma on Thursday, officials said. Authorities hope a full day of sunlight and dry weather helped kick-start efforts to thaw the Sooner State.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported four pedestrians were killed when they left their vehicles on state roadways Thursday during the storm and were struck by passing cars. A Marlow man died in Stephens County when he tried to help a stranded motorist, a Lawton man died in Comanche County when he got out of his car after a wreck and a Seminole man died in Seminole County when he got out of his stalled car. An Oklahoma City man died in a hit-and-run incident when a passing vehicle hit him as he aided a stranded motorist on Interstate 40 in El Reno.

An Oklahoma City man died Friday in Grady County when his sport-utility vehicle slid on ice and rolled on U.S. 81, troopers said.

Midwest City police also found a 79-year-old woman dead on her front porch this morning in the 1600 block of Oelke Drive, Police Chief Brandon Clabes said. She had no signs of trauma to her body may have died of exposure, but the medical examiner has yet to confirm a cause of death. Clabes said a neighbor called police this morning to say he saw the woman on the ground near her front door. The woman's identity has not been released.

Officials are urging state residents to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Highways and streets remain slick and hazardous at best or impassable at worst throughout Oklahoma, though authorities said conditions are slowly improving.

Ooten said several official shelters have been opened throughout the state, and many churches, private organizations and family homes have been made available to stranded motorists and travelers.

"The Oklahoma standard of caring is alive and well," Ooten said.

Cold weather all week in Oklahoma

Daytime high temperatures are expected to remain below 40 degrees until New Year's Day at the earliest, according to the weather service.

Saturday's weather is expected to be similar to today's, forecasters said. The state should remain dry and cold through the weekend.

Today's high temperatures exceeded forecasts by several degrees.

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