Fiery Pileup Shuts I-44 in OKC as Winter Storm Uri Makes Travel Hazardous; Knocks Out Power in Texas, Arkansas, Pacific Northwest

Weather.com:

Oklahoma:

Interstate 44, the Turner Turnpike, was forced to shut down Sunday afternoon in both directions in east Oklahoma City because of a pileup involving multiple vehicles caused by the ice and snow unleashed by Winter Storm Uri.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that two semitrailer tractors, an SUV and another vehicle were involved and that two of the semis caught fire. Several people were taken to the hospital, a reporter for KOKH tweeted.

Oklahoma National Guard troops were at the crash scene to transport injured motorists and provide first aid as needed.

Northbound I-35 was closed at the 225 mile marker because of to a collision.

Earlier Sunday afternoon in Mississippi, multiple accidents were reported on Interstate 55 as bridges began icing over north of Terry, according to the National Weather Service.

Winter Storm Uri was bringing dangerous cold and hazardous driving conditions from the southern Rockies across the Southern and Central Plains and into the South on Sunday, forcing officials to open warming shelters and causing power outages and flight cancellations.

Officials in Texas and Oklahoma urged residents to conserve energy, while school officials were also already closing schools or moving classes online for Monday.

Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency for 28 counties because of the approaching winter storm, WHNT reported.

Sunday morning in Albuquerque, New Mexico, wind gusts up to 60 mph reduced visibility to near zero at times, according to the National Weather Service.

Roads were snowy and icy across northern, central, and eastern New Mexico Sunday morning, KRQE reported.

All westbound lanes of Interstate 40 were closed at Tramway Boulevard in Albuquerque because of multiple accidents, the NWS reported. Officials in Oklahoma also warned that roads there are becoming more treacherous as snow continues to fall.

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency on Friday for all 77 of the state’s counties ahead of the winter storm.

Texas:

In Texas, more than 60,000 homes and businesses were without electricity about 3:30 p.m., according to poweroutage.usGov. Greg Abbott urged Texans to conserve electricity over the next few days.

“Power in the state of Texas will be very stressed,” he said.

Bill Magness, president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, warned Sunday that record electricity usage and unusually high power-generation problems could lead to rolling blackouts, KTRK reported. The council had to cut power to at least a million Texas homes during a record-breaking cold snap in 2011, KTRK said.

Officials are warning residents who do lose power to not use generators inside homes because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. At least one Tarrant County resident had been treated for potential carbon monoxide exposure Sunday morning, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Abbott, who issued an emergency disaster declaration for all of the state’s 254 counties on Friday, urged residents to prepare for the freezing temperatures and ice, KHOU reported.

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He said 745 snow plows have been activated across the state. He also requested a federal disaster declaration from the White House.

A six-mile stretch of Interstate 20 north of Tyler, Texas, was closed in both directions because of multiple crashes involving semitrailer tractors, the state Transportation Department reported.

“DPS said trucks are not able to make the hilly areas of I-20 between Smith and Van Zandt counties and wants motorists to avoid the area,” TxDOT said in a press release. “Motorists are urged to stay home.”

Abbott, Stitt and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson each activated National Guard units to assist state agencies, such as rescuing stranded drivers, the Associated Press reported.

More than 1,270 flights in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston area airports were already canceled as of 1 p.m. Sunday, according to flightaware.com. Overall, over 2,200 flights were canceled nationwide.

Homeless shelters in Dallas quickly reached capacity and officials opened the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to house people who couldn’t find shelter elsewhere, KXAS reported. It will remain open as long as the temperatures are below freezing.

Pacific Northwest

Winter Storm Uri on Saturday delivered a big blow in the Pacific Northwest. Strong winds, freezing rain, ice and snow left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power. More than 214,000 customers still had no electricity Sunday morning, poweroutage.us reported.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in nine counties, KGW reported.

Snow and ice caused slick roads, downed trees and power lines. Eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge remained closed Sunday, but westbound reopened between Troutdale to Hood River, KGW reported. The Oregon Department of Transportation closed the interstate at 9 p.m. Friday.

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