Snow, ice make traveling dangerous

Thursday, November 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Snow and ice made Oklahoma's highways treacherous as the first winter storm of the season sent a chill through the state.

At least two fatal collisions Wednesday were blamed on icy conditions on state highways. More dangerous conditions were likely as the National Weather Service called for more snow and subfreezing temperatures Thursday morning.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Bobby G. Baker, 66, and his wife, Ruby J. Baker, 56, both of Hillsboro, Texas, were killed Wednesday when their car went out of control on a sleet-slickened patch of Interstate 35 north of Tonkawa and collided with a second vehicle.

Snow and ice on most roadways had melted to a slushy mixture by Wednesday afternoon, forcing Transportation Department crews to monitor nighttime temperatures to see whether more icy conditions would develop, spokeswoman Terri Angier said.

"We're going to keep an eye on it all night," she said.

Angier urged motorists to slow down on Oklahoma turnpikes, where the normal speed limit is 75 mph.

"When a snow storm comes before rush hour, people go to bed in a certain condition and wake up in another condition. It takes time for people to realize the conditions have changed," said Angier said.

Angier said that when motorists drive too fast for the conditions, they endanger themselves, other drivers and ODOT employees.

State troopers reported 45 accidents between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Wednesday in Oklahoma City alone. In Enid, the patrol reported about 10 accidents, including six in Kingfisher County.

Some snow was expected overnight from southwest to north Oklahoma. Accumulations could be up to two inches.

A winter weather advisory was issued for 46 counties in southern, central and northeastern Oklahoma as the storm system responsible for the precipitation slowly moved eastward.

Motorists weren't the only ones having problems with the weather.

Charles Freeman, a deputy commissioner at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, said that after a dry, hot summer and a rainy October, the freezing precipitation dealt another blow to farmers.

"By in large, there is a lot of wheat ground that has not been planted," Freeman said. "Farmers have been impacted because of the slow seeding and slow planting."

Harold Wooderson, a farmer and rancher near Blackwell, said 1 to 2 inches of snow fell throughout the day Wednesday. However, most melted as it hit the ground.

With that, he's received about six inches of precipitation since mid-October.

"I hate to say this, but we've probably had enough -- for now,"

Wooderson said. "We'd probably be better off with some sunshine for the wheat pasture."