Winter storm leaves snow, frigid temperatures across Oklahoma

Wednesday, December 22nd 2004, 10:25 am
By: News On 6

A winter storm blew through Oklahoma Wednesday, icing some roads, contributing to a fatal traffic accidents and causing major headaches for motorists three days before Christmas.

Light snow fell across a wide section of the state. Northern Oklahoma was spared, but areas near and south of Interstate 40 received as little as a trace in Oklahoma City and Guthrie to 4 inches in Big Cedar and Durant, the National Weather Service reported.

The snow made roads slick and hazardous, contributing to three fatal accidents and dozens of others with minor to moderate injuries, according to Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports.

An eastbound car went out of control on U.S. 70 at 10:15 a.m. 7 miles west of Madill and slid into oncoming traffic, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Eldon Matthews said. The driver was killed. The driver of the westbound car that was struck in the accident was not seriously injured.

Also in southern Oklahoma, a Kiowa woman was killed when the vehicle in which she was riding collided with a pickup truck on U.S. 75 near Calvin, troopers said.

Misty Hall, 32, was pinned about 11/2 hours and died at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

A Coppell, Texas, man died when his vehicle slid on the snow and ice and collided with a tractor-trailer on U.S. 69 in Savanna, the patrol said.

Patrick G. Reinhert, 23, suffered massive injuries and died at the scene of the accident, troopers said.

Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Roan said troopers in southern Oklahoma worked "as many crashes as I can remember in 17 years" during a period from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Interstate 40 near Checotah in eastern Oklahoma was closed for about an hour after ice formed on a hill and vehicles were unable to negotiate the stretch of busy highway linking the state to Arkansas.

In Lawton, a tractor-trailer hauling goats overturned on the Interstate 44 bridge over U.S. 62.

Many of the animals were trapped in the trailer and died, but some escaped and a couple apparently jumped off the 40-foot bridge and survived.

"They didn't die," said Capt. Angela Chiarappa. "They just ran off and that shocked me."

She said the rig was traveling at an unsafe speed before the accident.

North of Guthrie, a tractor-trailer accident closed northbound lanes of Interstate 35 for about an hour.

"It's not a big snow, but a blowing type snow creating problems driving," said Highway Patrol Lt. Brandon Kopepasah. "It's not a big problem with sticking and piling up, but it's still causing some driving problems, mostly on overpasses and bridges.

"We've had a few slide-offs, mostly property damage. We've had a few injuries although they were slight."

The storm, which was bringing frigid air from Canada, was expected to give the state some of its coldest temperatures of the season. Lows were expected to dip into the teens before the start of a gradual warming trend on Saturday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kenneth James.

The snow comes after three weeks of weather that has been a few degrees above normal.

Oklahoma gets its coldest weather in January and early February, but this winter may be milder than usual because of an El Nino effect, a phenomenon in which warm waters from the Western Pacific move farther east than normal