Staff and wire reports
OKLAHOMA CITY — A wintry storm caked the center of the nation with a thick layer of ice Monday, blacking out more than 600,000 homes and businesses, and more icy weather was on the way. At least 15 deaths in Oklahoma and Missouri were blamed on the conditions, with 13 of them killed on slick highways.
A state of emergency was declared for the entire state of Oklahoma, where the sound of branches snapping under the weight of the ice echoed through Oklahoma City.
“You can hear them falling everywhere,” Lonnie Compton said Monday as he shoveled ice off his driveway.
The National Weather Service posted ice and winter storm warnings Tuesday for parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Missouri declared an emergency on Sunday and put the National Guard on alert.
A winter weather advisory for the Clovis area predicting icy rain expired around 11 a.m. Monday when temperatures rose into the 30s, according to Ken Drozd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
Drozd said cold air is expected to return today, but there will be less moisture in the area and only a slight possibility of snow.
Oklahoma utilities said a half-million customers were blacked out as power lines snapped under the weight of ice and falling tree branches, the biggest power outage in state history, and utilities in Missouri said more than 100,000 homes and business had no power there.
“If you do the math, probably one out of three Oklahomans has no electricity at this point,” said Gil Broyles, a spokesman for Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility.
Roughly 11,000 customers were blacked out in southern Illinois and more than 5,000 had no electric heat or lights in Kansas, where Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was expecting requests from several counties for emergency declarations.
Ice was as much as an inch thick on tree limbs and power lines in parts of the region.
Schools across Oklahoma were closed and some hospitals were relying on backup power generators. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers sent 50 generators and three truckloads of bottled water from Texas to distribute to blacked-out areas of Oklahoma.
Today: Periods of showers. High near 39. South wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent.
Tonight: Periods of showers. Low around 33. South wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent.
Tuesday: A chance of rain showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. West wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. Night: A slight chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25. North wind between 10 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
Wednesday: A 10 percent chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a high near 45. North wind around 10 mph. Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 27.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 54. Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 26.
Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 27.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 57. Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 57.