Freezing rain is to blame for two deaths in Oklahoma since Friday, while thousands of people statewide woke up Sunday morning without electricity in their homes and facing dangerous driving conditions.
“This ice storm was equivalent to two or three we've seen over the past 10 years,” National Weather Service meteorologist Wayne Ruff said Saturday evening. “The one thing we didn't have this time around was strong winds.”
The weather service reported the Oklahoma City metro area received as much as one inch of ice accumulation since the winter storm rolled into the state Friday evening.
Meteorologists anticipated freezing rain and sleet changing over to light snow early Sunday. Parts of northeast Oklahoma are expected to receive two inches of snow, with some areas in the west receiving as much as to five inches.
The Oklahoma City area should get only a dusting of snow, but temperatures are not expected to move above freezing until Monday afternoon, forecasters said.
Christian Manuel-Mejia-Reyes, 31, of Hot Springs, Ark., died after a single-car accident on U.S. Highway 183 in Major County shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.
Brock Lynn Norton, 16, of Cleveland, OK, died after a single-vehicle accident on U.S. 64 in Tulsa County just after 12:45 a.m. Saturday, troopers reported.
Also, a person whose name was not released died after in a multicar accident Friday night near NW 39th Expressway and Council Road, Oklahoma City police said.
All three accidents were caused by icy driving conditions, authorities said.
From 6 a.m. to 8:40 p.m. Saturday, the Emergency Medical Services Authority responded to 22 slip-and-fall injuries and 12 motor vehicle crashes. Two people also were treated for possible carbon monoxide poisoning stemming from a gas heater.
EMSA spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said people should avoid standing under trees or below overhead objects laden with ice, and also to wear shoes with good gripping ability while out doing last-minute holiday shopping so they can avoid ice-related injuries.
“People seem to be driving safe,” O'Leary said. “We would urge people to use caution while walking since we have had so many slips and falls. Just try and take it slow.”
More than 18,000 Oklahoma residents were without power for much of the day, including more than 8,000 in the Oklahoma City metro area, the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. reported. Norman, Glenpool and Kellyville also had high concentrations of outages, leaving thousands without electricity.
Most of the outages were caused by ice and freezing rain coating trees and power lines which resulted in dangerous collapses. OG&E crews worked around the clock to try to restore power to the affected areas, but the company had no timetable for when power would be restored statewide.
Roads in the metro area were passable Saturday morning because of an overnight rise in temperature and a ground temperature of 38 degrees that limited any ice build up on roadways. But as temperatures dropped Saturday afternoon and into the evening, the state Transportation Department closed a number of major travel routes.
Four sections of highway in northwest Oklahoma were shut down late Saturday night because of poor visibility; U.S. Highway 54 between Guymon and the Kansas border near Liberal, State Highway 3 between Guymon and Seiling, U.S. Highway 83 between the U.S. Highway 412 junction north to the Kansas border and State Highway 23 between the U.S. Highway 64 junction near Beaver north to the Kansas border, the state Transportation Department reported.
Will Rogers World Airport canceled 20 flights early Saturday morning, but airport officials said runways had thawed in the afternoon allowing many delayed flights to take off and land.
Check travel conditions in your area
To check current road conditions in your area, call the Department of Public Safety's road conditions hotline at 888-425-2385.