By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
North-central Oklahoma was spared the worst of a winter storm Christmas Day, which also means the region did not receive much-needed precipitation.
Forecasts had called for icy conditions Christmas morning, followed by 3-8 inches of snow, varying from one forecast to the next.
Those predictions did not come to fruition Tuesday, as the front brought cold temperatures, high winds and single-digit wind chills, but little in the way of snow.
The majority of the moisture pushed further south to the Oklahoma City metro area, good news for holiday travelers in north-central and northwest Oklahoma.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office reported no weather-related accidents Tuesday afternoon.
However, slick roads may have contributed to a fatality accident at 10:35 a.m. Christmas Day in Major County.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Amanda Sue Goodman, 28, of Woodward, died in a crash on U.S. 412 just east of the Oklahoma 8 junction near Cleo Springs.
OHP said a 2004 Ford Expedition driven by Justin David Goodman, 32, of Woodward, was traveling eastbound on U.S. 412 and a 2010 Peterbuilt semitrailer, driven by James R. Edwards, 51, of Twinsburg, Ohio, was westbound, when the van apparently lost control on the snow-covered highway and hit the semi.
Amanda Goodman was ejected and was pronounced dead at the scene of massive injuries. A second passenger, Makinley Erin Goodman, 4, also was ejected. She was transported by Major County EMS to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Enid, and transferred to OU Presbyterian Hospital in Okahoma City in stable condition with internal, arm and leg injuries.
Justin Goodman was transported by Ringwood EMS to St. Mary’s and was admitted in stable condition with head, internal and arm injuries.
Edwards was not injured. OHP said seat belts were in use by all passengers in both vehicles, and the cause of the collision still was under investigation.
Both lanes of U.S. 412 were reopened after almost eight hours in order to clear the roadway.
While today’s forecast does not call for any significant snowfall, authorities still are urging travelers to be cautious due to low temperatures, with morning temperatures in the low teens and wind chills in the low single digits.
Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management Director Mike Honigsberg advised travelers to take precautions in the event they become stranded on the road, and to avoid prolonged exposure to low temperatures.
In his daily email update Tuesday, Honigsberg advised travelers to drive slowly; leave with a full tank of gas and a fully charged cellphone; take along emergency supplies, including blankets or extra layers; and take food in case you get stranded.
Snow and freezing rain made for perilous driving conditions on Christmas Day in other sections of Oklahoma, where 21 cars piled up in Oklahoma City before the massive winter storm spread east into Arkansas.
Blizzard warnings were issued in southwest Oklahoma and northeast Arkansas, where forecasters said strong winds could create blowing snow conditions that rarely are seen in Arkansas.
“Highway travel is strongly discouraged,” the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said in a news release.
The pileup in Oklahoma City began at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, when a semitrailer jackknifed on Interstate 40 on a bridge over the Oklahoma River, state Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said. Other vehicles hit the semi and other semis slid into the vehicles, sandwiching them, she said.
In all, there were 10 separate crashes involving 21 vehicles and three tractor-trailers. Several people were injured.
“Some of them, it took the entire top of the car off, like they slid under a semi,” Randolph said.
Officials were able to reopen I-40 after about five hours, but roads in numerous areas of Oklahoma were slick with ice, according to the highway department.
Also Tuesday, crews treated bridges on Interstate 35 south of Oklahoma City, and icy conditions made driving difficult near Tulsa. In western Oklahoma, officials reported slick and hazardous conditions on I-40 in Beckham, Washita and Custer counties due to sleet and blowing snow.
Officials cautioned as temperatures fell during the day, roads that had been wet were likely to freeze Tuesday night.
In Arkansas, up to 10 inches of snow was forecast through today in the northeast part of the state, which was under a blizzard warning. In Little Rock and much of central and northern Arkansas, 3-6 inches of snow was forecast, with higher amounts in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains.
Road conditions held up Tuesday afternoon in most of Arkansas, but National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Goudsward in the North Little Rock office said that wouldn’t last.
In Oklahoma, all of Interstate 40, which bisects the state from east to west, was slick because rain was freezing as soon as it hit the pavement, Randolph said.
After the Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut down I-40 near its junction with I-35, troopers diverted traffic while the debris could be cleared. Interstate 40 also was closed for a time near Clinton in western Oklahoma because of overturned vehicles, as well as the eastbound lanes about 10 miles east of Shawnee because of a jackknifed tractor-trailer.
Traffic was light because most people already had reached their holiday destinations, “but the ones that are out there are having trouble staying on the road,” she said.
For current weather conditions and forecasts, go to the National Weather Service at www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/.
The Associated Press contributed to this news story.