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Oklahoma blizzard leaves 1 dead, spurs emergency state

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Modified: December 25, 2009 at 9:26 am •  Published: December 25, 2009


photo - Traffic navigates past an injury accident Thursday on Lake Hefner Parkway in Oklahoma City.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Traffic navigates past an injury accident Thursday on Lake Hefner Parkway in Oklahoma City. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Bailey Turnpike. Comanche County authorities said 21 motorists were rescued in and near the Lawton area.

Troopers stopped responding to non-injury accidents in the Oklahoma City area in the early afternoon to focus on injury crashes and road closures, a spokesman said.

About 50 cars were involved in a pile-up in the east metro on Interstate 40 near Hudiburg Drive in the afternoon, Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said. Two police cars and an ambulance were involved.

Paramedics responded to 25 injury crashes in Oklahoma City and 10 falls by mid-afternoon, said Lara O’Leary, Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman. She said the figures could have been worse had it been a normal work day.

State Transportation Department salt truck crews were struggling to keep up with the storm Thursday afternoon, department spokesman David Meuser said. Crews reported slick and hazardous roadways statewide.

Power outages strike southwest Oklahoma
Officials reported more than 16,000 electric customers were without power in Oklahoma late afternoon, state Emergency Management Department spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said. The hardest-hit area was in the southwest, where the majority of the power outages were clustered.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Lawton High School, 601 NW Fort Sill Blvd., for residents without power, Ooten said. Officials in Cache opened a shelter at the fire department.

More than 4,300 Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. customers were without power early Thursday evening in the Oklahoma City area, according to the OG&E Web site.

Snowfall totals vary across state
A record snowfall of 14 inches was reported at Will Rogers World Airport by the National Weather Service of Norman, but the recording could have been a result of snow blowing into drifts.

Other totals recorded statewide were about 6 inches or less.

The previous record for Christmas Eve was 2.5 inches in 1914.

Snow accumulations were hard to estimate because of the strong winds and gusts, according to the weather service.

Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph were recorded at nearly every Oklahoma Mesonet station alongside and west of I-44.

Central Oklahoma was expected to receive up to 6 inches of snow before the storm moved out of the state.

Southern Oklahoma was expected to receive up to 9 inches.

Snow drifts in some areas of Oklahoma City were several feet deep.

CONTRIBUTING: STAFF WRITERS ROBERT MEDLEY, BRIAN SARGENT, DARLA SLIPKE, JOHN ESTUS AND VALLERY BROWN, THE TULSA WORLD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Road condition reports

Oklahoma: 425-2385

Kansas: (800) 585-7623

Colorado: (303) 639-1111

Nebraska: (402) 471-4533

Texas: (800) 452-9292

Arkansas: (800) 245-1672

Missouri: (800) 222-6400

New Mexico: (800) 432-4269

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