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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Gradual warming trend forecast after Okla. storm

  • OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A winter storm that dumped ice and snow across Oklahoma is blamed for three traffic fatalities on slick roads and highways, authorities said Sunday.
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    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A winter storm that dumped ice and snow across Oklahoma is blamed for three traffic fatalities on slick roads and highways, authorities said Sunday.
     
    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Christian Manuel Mejia-Reyes, 31, of Hot Springs, Ark., died Saturday afternoon when the van he was riding in went off icy U.S. 183 just north of Seiling and overturned.
     
    Authorities say a 16-year-old boy died early Saturday after his car crashed and overturned on icy U.S. 64 near Tulsa, and a woman was killed Friday night in a collision on a slick roadway in northwest Oklahoma City.
     
    The precipitation ended Sunday after dumping up to a half inch of ice in parts of the state and up 6 inches of snow in northwestern Oklahoma. A gradual warming trend was forecast to start Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Pike.
     
    "We expect highs Monday in the mid-30s," Pike said. "By Tuesday much of the whole area should be above freezing. We're looking at highs in the 40s through the week and the lower 50s during the weekend."
     
    Christmas Day is expected to be partly to mostly cloudy with highs in the 40s.
     
    State officials on Sunday closed the Emergency Operations Center that was activated as the storm began, said Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain.
     
    "Emergency management staff is staying in contact with emergency managers in the impacted areas and also with our partner agencies," such as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Cain said.
     
    Power outages Sunday were also down from a peak number of more than 30,000, according to officials with the state's two largest utility companies, Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
     
    "Anything in the metro Oklahoma City area, right now we're expecting to have them back on tonight, it may be late tonight," said OG&E spokeswoman Karen Kurtz. Outages in the Glenpool and Sapulpa areas in northeastern Oklahoma likely would not be repaired until Monday, Kurtz said, adding that the utility had about 21,000 outages at the peak.
     
    PSO, which had more than 9,000 outages at the peak expected to have "99 percent" of those repaired by late Sunday, said spokesman Stan Whiteford.
     
    "There likely will be some very isolated outages that won't be back on line until Monday," Whiteford said. "A few stragglers."
     
    Both Kurtz and Whiteford warned that outages that have been repaired are still at risk as the ice begins to thaw, especially from trees that are bowed over beneath power lines.
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    "Limbs can take down lines when they go down, then take out the repaired lines when the ice melts and the trees and limbs snap back into place," Whiteford said. "That's a circumstance that happens with every ice storm."

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