Major winter storm pummels Oklahoma
A major winter storm continued to pound the state Sunday, prompting blizzards in the west and flooding in the east.
A blizzard warning is in effect for the Panhandle and seven north and western counties until 6 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
Several state highways were reported closed due to the blizzard, and authorities closed Interstate 40 west of Amarillo, Texas. By sundown, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol was labeling the roads in most of central and western Oklahoma as slick and hazardous.
Eight people had suffered weather-related injuries by Sunday night, authorities reported.
The storm is expected to move east overnight, changing freezing rain and sleet in Oklahoma City to snow on Monday. A winter storm warning is in effect for Oklahoma, Canadian and 16 other central and western counties until 6 p.m.
“The mix that we're getting is slowly going to start changing over probably around sunrise. It's going to change over to just light snow and should be out of here by the early part of the afternoon,” said John Pike, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman.
“It's going to push right through southern Oklahoma and move northeast kind of following Interstate 44. By the mid-to-late afternoon, it should be pretty much out of here,” Pike said.
“As far as accumulations, we still have one to four inches. There could be a little bit of ice accumulation underneath, anywhere from a tenth to a quarter of an inch and maybe a little bit of glazing,” he said.
At noon Sunday, 28 trucks began salting roadways around the clock in Oklahoma City, spokeswoman Kristy Yager said. Crews started salting bridges and overpasses Sunday morning, and the city has plenty of salt on hand, she said.
Will Rogers World Airport is open and operating, but numerous flights were delayed or canceled as the day wore on, spokeswoman Karen Carney said. You can check your flight status at http://www.flyokc.com/trakaflight.aspx, she said.
Most of central Oklahoma is expected to see between one and four inches of snow, along with ice accumulation from one-tenth to a quarter of an inch in Oklahoma City. An area in midwest parts of the state including Clinton and Altus are expected to see up to three-quarters of an inch of ice, while the far northwest is forecast to receive more than eight inches of snow by storm's end, according to the weather service.
Some isolated locations in northwest Oklahoma may see more than a foot of snow with drifts over six feet possible, the weather service said.
More than 56,000 customers were without power statewide as of 5:30 p.m., including nearly 10,000 in Altus and over 4,100 in Tuttle, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
More than 9,500 Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. customers were without power at 6 p.m. Sunday, including about 2,400 in Oklahoma City.
Ada, Blanchard, Chickasha, Edmond, El Reno, Enid and Frederick also reported more than 1,000 customers without power, authorities said.
Altus water customers are also asked to conserve water due to an outage on Tom Sneed Reservoir, emergency managers report.
Talihina in southeast Oklahoma caught the most rain on Sunday, with 8.28 inches reported by the Oklahoma Mesonet by 6:30 p.m.. Storms have dropped the most rainfall at the Tahlequah site, with more than 10 inches of rain reported since they began.
Mesonet sites at Cloudy, Cookson, Sallisaw and Stigler also reported more than six inches of rain on Sunday by sunset.
Flooding prompted more than two dozen highways in eastern Oklahoma to be closed, according to the state transportation department.
Okmulgee County emergency management reports two homes were evacuated overnight due to flooding, and at least three water rescues were reported in Pittsburg County.
A rock slide on State Highway 10 north of Tahlequah was reported by Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission spokesman Ed Fite. The Illinois River is also anticipated to reach near-record levels on Monday, he said.
A state of emergency declared by Gov. Mary Fallin on Nov. 29 remains in effect for all 77 counties. The declaration is a step toward seeking federal assistance if necessary.
Pike said there's a chance later this week for light snow mainly across northern and western Oklahoma, and temperatures at night are expected to remain in the teens and low 20s. Temperatures may break 40 degrees next week, he said.