Although high winds combined with snowfall in southwestern Oklahoma to create blizzard conditions, Altus police said there were no injuries reported from the numerous minor vehicular accidents investigated over the holidays. Also reported to police were numerous vehicles that had slid off the roadways and into ditches. Police Chief Tim Murphy said that Altus residents reported no power outages from the storm, and there were no reports of damages as a result of the winter storm.
The Storm Center in Norman reported gusts to 40-45 mph as snow fell across the state at a rate of up to an inch and a-half per hour. Near-zero visibility was reported in some areas.
The storm system that came out of the Rockies made travel difficult, and a number of traffic accidents were blamed on the winter storm. Oklahoma highways were slick statewide, with snow drifts on Interstate 40 between Oklahoma City and the Texas state line, which created problems for motorists. Although travel was highly discouraged, there was a 21-vehicle accident near downtown Oklahoma City, and a 28-year-old woman died in a crash on U.S. 412 near Fairfield on Christmas.
Elsewhere, an enormous storm system dumped snow and sleet on the nation’s midsection and unleashed damaging tornadoes around the Deep South began punching its way toward the Northeast on Wednesday, slowing holiday travel.
Post-Christmas travelers braced for flight delays and a raft of weather warnings for drivers, a day after rare winter twisters damaged buildings in Louisiana and Alabama.
Snow and ice covered roads in southern Illinois and southern Indiana early Wednesday. Officials urged residents to stay home if they can. State police reported numerous slide-off accidents in the Evansville, Ind., area and white-out conditions on Interstate 64 in Indiana with wind gusts around 30 mph.
The storm system headed from the Gulf Coast to New England has been blamed for three deaths and several injuries, though no one was killed outright in the tornadoes. In snowy Arkansas, the storm left more than 189,000 customers without electricity Wednesday, utility Entergy Arkansas said.
Severe thunderstorms were forecast for the Carolinas while a line of blizzard and winter storm warnings stretched from Arkansas up the Ohio River to New York and on to Maine.
Thirty-four tornadoes were reported in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama during the outbreak Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
Mobile was the biggest city hit by numerous twisters. Along with brutal, straight-line winds, the storms knocked down countless trees, blew the roofs off homes and left many Christmas celebrations in the dark. Torrential rains drenched the region and several places saw flash flooding.
More than 325 flights around the U.S. were canceled as of Wednesday morning, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.com. The cancelations were mostly spread around airports that had been or soon would be in the path of the storm.
Holiday travelers in the nation’s much colder midsection battled treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard conditions from the same fast-moving storms. In Arkansas, highway department officials said the state was fortunate the snowstorm hit on Christmas Day when many travelers were already at their destinations.
Texas, meanwhile, dealt with high winds and slickened highways.
The snowstorm that caused numerous accidents pushed out of Oklahoma late Tuesday, carrying with it blizzard warnings for parts of northeast Arkansas, where 10 inches of snow was forecast. Freezing rain clung to trees and utility lines in Arkansas and winds gusts up to 30 mph whipped them around, causing about 71,000 customers to lose electricity for a time.