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Winter Storm Forces Interstates, Turnpikes Closed in Oklahoma

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CNN: Oklahoma's governor ordered every state highway, interstate and turnpike closed Thursday night, hours after declaring a statewide emergency because of a major winter storm battering the state and the rest of the central U.S.

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"I am urging all Oklahomans to take winter storm precautions and stay off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary," Gov. Brad Henry said earlier in the day after declaring a state of emergency. "This is a very serious winter storm, and we want Oklahomans to stay safe."

Heavy snow and limited visibility has left treacherous road conditions in Oklahoma on Christmas Eve, snarling holiday travel, according to CNN affiliate KOCO-TV.

In Midwest City, Oklahoma, nearly 50 vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction accident, the station reported. The quickly accumulating snow also caused the roof collapse of a well-known, landmark furniture store in Oklahoma City, officials told KOCO-TV.

One motorist was killed Thursday in the storm on Interstate 44, south of Lawton, Oklahoma, Comanche County Public Information Officer Chris Killmer told CNN. Killmer said there are hundreds of car accidents and stranded motorists in Comanche County. He said officials were still sending out people to find stranded motorists. They had already rescued between 65 and 70 from the conditions Thursday.

A band of extremely heavy snow, capable of producing up to 4 inches of snow per hour, and isolated thunder was moving into northeast Oklahoma Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City reported 13 inches of snow and was closed Thursday night. The airport's Web site said it did not expect to re-open Thursday night but should be open Friday morning.

In the past 106 years, residents of Oklahoma City have only awakened to snow six times on Christmas morning, CNN's Sean Morris said.

Blizzard warnings have been issued for central and southwestern Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, and parts of northwestern Texas. Blizzard warnings also were issued for Nebraska, extreme western Iowa, western Missouri, North Dakota, much of north-central and northeastern South Dakota, and the Duluth area in Minnesota.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley December 25, 2009, 10:31 AM

Ilive just north of OKC and we were supposed to head out of town today. I like this though because this is the first year that we can just sit back and relax and enjoy our Christmas at home in our pj’s!!

ashley December 26, 2009, 6:18 AM

we decided to go to my hubby’s 88 year old grandma’s yesterday afternoon. She just lives in our neighborhood about, maybe less than a quarter mile away. We spent 2 hours trying to get out of her house. She lives on a hill. So our suv is sitting on the curb up the hill from her house and my husband and I and our kids, 7 1/2 and 2 1/2 walked home. That was our Christmas adventure!!

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