A strong winter storm that dumped snow and freezing rain on parts of western and central Oklahoma Thursday morning caused hazardous driving conditions and numerous power outages as it spread across the state.


A strong winter storm that dumped snow and freezing rain on parts of western and central Oklahoma Thursday morning caused hazardous driving conditions and numerous power outages as it spread across the state.

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service in Norman issued a winter storm warning for sleet and freezing rain in the Ardmore area. The warning was expected to remain in effect until noon today. Freezing rain and sleet were expected to begin late Thursday and continue this morning. Ice may accumulate on power lines, streets and elevated surfaces, and strong north and northwest winds are expected to put additional stress on the lines. Today’s high is expected to reach 35 degrees.

Carter County Emergency Management Director Paul Tucker said at 11:45 a.m. Thursday the freeze line had reached the northwest part of the county. The air temperature in Ardmore at that time was 33 degrees.

“Right now we are in the same position we were earlier, fortunately,” he said late Thursday afternoon. “We do have some reports of icing on elevated surfaces in northwestern Carter County, but nothing on the roadways yet.”

He said he received a report of phone and cable lines down in the Ratliff City area, but had not received any reports of power outages.

Freezing rain and sleet hit the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles early Thursday, and temperatures dropped below freezing as the storm moved into central Oklahoma. Ice accumulations of more than one-half inch and high winds snapped electrical lines across the state Thursday, knocking out electrical power to more than 57,000 homes and businesses. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 44 southwest of Oklahoma City was closed due to downed power lines in the roadway. Toppled power lines also forced the closure of a portion of Interstate 40 in far western Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation issued a road conditions update at 3:15 p.m. Thursday discouraging travel on highways and interstates in the state. ODOT crews reported icy conditions were developing across most of the state and were working to treat bridges, overpasses and roadways with salt and sand.

Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties Wednesday night. The declaration provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster assistance program, should conditions warrant.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management opened its Emergency Operations Center early Thursday to coordinate the state’s response to the storm, spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said.

Industrial-size generators and bottled water were moved to staging sites in Oklahoma City and McAlester to be distributed where they are needed. Hospitals, mass shelters and water systems would be first to use the generators in case of power failures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.