As western Oklahoma starts to dry out and southeast Oklahoma gets ready for a first round of freezing precipitation, roads and highways across the state are slick and hazardous, and transportation officials are discouraging travel.
Panhandle highways — including Interstate 40 — are now open. They were previously closed at the request of Texas and Colorado officials, according to the state transportation department.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports northbound lanes of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike at mile marker 83 are now open. They were closed about 4:55 p.m. due to a jack-knifed tractor-trailer.
The H.E. Bailey Turnpike also remains closed from mile markers 83 to 53, including the exit ramp at 83 for Chickasha, due to downed power lines in the area, the patrol said.
State Highway 5 south of Gould remains closed due to downed powerlines. In some southwestern counties, plowing operations have been hindered because of low-hanging power lines, according to the state Transportation Department.
State Highway 7, west of U.S. 81 and the Duncan Bypass are slick.
In Tulsa, Interstate 44 was closed at 193rd due to a collision, but reopened at about 6 p.m.
Roads remain slick and hazardous in western, southwestern, central and northeastern regions of the state, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol continues to discourage travel. Only Bryan, Choctaw and McCurtain counties were not reporting icy roads at 9 p.m.
Oklahoma City street crews are working around the clock with 22 trucks. Two of the city's trucks broke down overnight and are being repaired, streets superintendent Mike DeGiacamo said.
DeGiacomo said the city also is running low on salt and will be mixing sand with salt to compensate. He said crews will be working non-stop through the weekend.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews are also trying to clear roadways, but drivers are urged to stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment.
Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said crews made some headway before the latest round of heavy snow began falling.
"Today, frankly, driving conditions are worse than yesterday," Angier said.
Several state highways were closed for part of the day, mostly because of downed power lines, Angier said.
While far western Oklahoma was beginning to dry out as the storm system moved eastward, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said driving conditions were continuing to deteriorate for the rest of the state, as crews reported hazardous driving conditions.
If emergency travel is unavoidable, officials urge motorists to use extreme caution, particularly on bridges and overpasses.
Even on stretches of interstate which appear to be fairly clear, motorists should expect slow travel and should be prepared for conditions that could change without notice.
In Oklahoma City, ice covered many city streets and roadways.
In southwestern and central areas of the state, some rural highways are closed due to fallen trees and downed power lines.
With slick ice lurking under the snowfall, however, driving is not the only hazard.
"Truly a most dangerous trip today will be from the porch to the car or the mailbox or the newspaper. We urge extreme care if you must venture outdoors," said Michelann Ooten, state emergency management spokeswoman.
During snow and/or ice conditions, motorists should:
• Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
Be aware that conditions are continually changing; drive cautiously.
Stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
Be aware of "black ice," which looks wet on the roadway but is actually a thin layer of ice.
Allow extra space between vehicles so there is adequate distance for braking in wet and icy conditions.
Please be patient, plan trips ahead and allow extra time to reach destinations.
To check current conditions, call the state Transportation Department hotline at (888) 425-2385.