Waves of freezing rain and sleet caused a chaotic night for traffic Thursday around Durant and Bryan County.
The first dose of freezing rain arrived earlier than forecasts predicted - around 3 p.m. Thursday - causing four accidents in less than 30 minutes. No serious injuries were reported.
After dark, as the rain transitioned to sleet, police reported several stranded, wrecked or abandoned vehicles on highways 22 and 75 around Caddo. One truck had overturned but an officer on the scene reported finding footprints leading away from the abandoned truck.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma National Guard were working in concert to check area roads for stranded motorists.
By 4:30 a.m. Friday, between two and four inches of sleet had accumulated across most of Bryan County, according to National Weather Service. Another half inch of snow was expected across the area by 3 p.m.
After that, skies will clear and temperatures will fall to around six degrees. Wind chill values could be as low as -8.
Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management officials were still warning motorists to be cautious on Friday.
“The sleet is bad so don’t try to drive,” states the agency’s latest Facebook post around 6 a.m. Friday. “Temperatures should stay below freezing until Tuesday or Wednesday so it will be with us for awhile.”
Several entities participated in a meeting with Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management on Thursday afternoon.
The Red Cross, Choctaw Nation, OHP, the National Guard, Bryan County Commissioners and Bryan County Health Department all took part in discussions about preparations for a possible ice storm.
The main concern was the potential for power outages, but only isolated power outages were reported in the Boswell area. Extended power outages would be especially problematic for the elderly, shut-ins and people dependent on medical machinery such as dialysis patients and those on oxygen pumps.
A legion of linemen descended upon Durant on Thursday, getting ready to repair any damaged power lines as a result of the storm. But power was on in most locations, with slick roads being the main nuisance as a result of the “fall frost” of 2013.