Winter storm shuts down schools, causes crashes Thursday in Oklahoma City
A winter storm moved into the state Wednesday night and Thursday morning, shutting down schools, causing dozens of crashes on state roadways and knocking out power to many homes and businesses in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Another round of snow was expected to move across the state Thursday afternoon, bringing heavy snowfall to some areas, the National Weather Service reported.
Icy roadways contributed to fatal wrecks Wednesday and Thursday, said Capt. Paul Timmons, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman.
“One of the biggest factors is driving too fast,” Timmons said. “If people would just slow down, they could get to where they need to be."
He said the slickest roadways were reported south and west of Oklahoma City Thursday.
After freezing rain started Wednesday afternoon in Oklahoma City, firefighters reported 70 wrecks on roadways across the city, a fire spokesman said. There were three more wrecks early Thursday.
Icy, slick roadways contributed to at least five traffic fatalities Wednesday night and Thursday morning, authorities reported.
In Pittsburg County, Karen Marie Price, 63, of Eufaula, was driving on State Highway 9A about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday when her pickup slid into the path of a tractor-trailer and the two vehicles collided. Price was pronounced dead at the scene.
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In Shawnee, Norman Hanks, 82, was driving a car west about 7 p.m. Wednesday on a bridge on Lake Road near Benedict Street when he veered into the path of a pickup. Hanks was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Icy weather conditions appear to have contributed to the collision, Shawnee police reported.
About 1:10 a.m. Thursday, Daniel Ellison, 24, of Burleson, Texas, and Erica Womack, 18, of Fort Worth, Texas, were pronounced dead at the scene of a crash in the northbound lanes of Interstate 35 about 4 miles south of Davis. Ellison and Womack were passengers in a car that struck an icy patch on an overpass. The driver lost control of the car and collided with a tractor-trailer, the highway patrol said.
Later Thursday morning, Ramos Francis, 76, of Chickasha, died at Grady County Memorial Hospital of injuries he suffered when the pickup he was driving ran off an icy roadway and struck a tree, the highway patrol reported.
In Oklahoma City, from Wednesday afternoon through about 2:45 p.m. Thursday, ambulances had responded to 89 wrecks and paramedics took 21 people to hospitals to be treated for injuries, reported Lara O’Leary, Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman.
EMSA crews also responded to reports of 23 people falling on ice. Crews took 14 people injured from slipping on ice to hospitals.
Heavy snow was reported in western parts of the state and freezing rain moved into central Oklahoma, transitioning to snow in some parts of the city shortly after 9 a.m.
By 1:30 p.m. Thursday, snowfall was reported across nearly all of western Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service. In Lawton and Clinton, 3-4 inches of snow was reported, and in Altus, 2-3 inches was reported. In Oklahoma City, less than an inch of snow was reported.
More than 1,700 customers in the Oklahoma City metro area were without power Thursday afternoon, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. reported.
The state Department of Public Safety reported that all state agencies may temporarily reduce non-essential services Thursday morning in seven central Oklahoma counties including Canadian, Cleveland, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie.
The University of Oklahoma Norman campus was closed Thursday due to weather, an OU spokesman reported. Oklahoma City Schools are also closed Thursday. Oklahoma State University officials closed the Stillwater campus at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Ice accumulation on overhead wires prompted city officials to put the Oklahoma City Streetcar on a reduced schedule Thursday. Embark spokesman Michael Scroggins said the streetcar would be back to its regular schedule Friday morning.
Several flights were delayed or cancelled Thursday afternoon at Will Rogers World Airport. Airport officials advised travelers to monitor their flights through their airlines, as de-icing and winter weather at other destinations could continue to cause delays.
A winter storm warning is in effect for central Oklahoma until 6 a.m. Friday. Freezing rain and sleet will continue before 10 a.m. in central Oklahoma, then snow and sleet is expected between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Total snow and sleet accumulation of 3 to 7 inches is possible Thursday.
Check NewsOK.com for weather-related updates.