The Woodward News

February 6, 2014

Weather leads to several accidents

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — By noon Wednesday, there had been 12 accidents on the snow packed and icy road ways between Woodward and Guymon, according to Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and Public Affairs Officer Steve Nightengale.

“Most of these accidents were caused because people are going too fast for the conditions,” Nightengale said.

Beginning in the early hours of Tuesday morning, a winter storm socked Beaver, Harper, Woodward, Woods and Ellis Counties with anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of snow.

An updated report from the National Weather Service indicates there was a fairly good chance for another two to three inches this morning and today with a high of 11 today. Wind chills are dangerously low at negative 15 to 20 degrees. That means it doesn’t take long for exposed skin to be injured.

Friday, there is aa 30 percent chance of snow with a high of 27 and a low of 7 expected. Saturday is predicted to be the first day above freezing and sunny with a high of 39 degrees.

As of Wednesday afternoon, some roadways were still snow packed and very hazardous, Nightengale said. What was clear, was wet and expected to freeze hard overnight again.

“I was in Woodward this morning and Oklahoma Avenue was just a sheet of ice because there was traffic on it but the temperature was so low it was refreezing,” he said. “We talked about getting some sand and snow on that for sure.”

According to Nightengale, of the 12 accidents, two were roll-overs.

“We had some minor injuries, but so far nothing really bad,” he said.

Nightengale wants that to be the last of the accidents for this storm system and it could be if people would just slow down, he said.

“It amazes me sometime how fast some people are driving,” he said. “Sometimes they get over confident and that really starts to happen with this stuff starts melting. They need to remember, it may look dry, but there will be slick spots you may not be able to see.”

So, what does slow down mean? To some people, slowing down means going 50 mph instead of 80, but that is not what he is talking about, he said.

“Well the state law is you have to drive the speed depending on conditions, that allows you to keep control of your vehicle,” he said. “For some that is 25 mph and for others it might be 45.”

But if you have an accident on an icy road in which you lost control of your vehicle, you will be ticketed for overdriving the conditions, Nightengale said.

“I have people who I have written tickets to say, ‘I was only doing 45,’”he said. “I tell them if they lost control of their vehicle at 45 then that was too fast.”

Other causes of injury and fatalities during storms like the one in which Northwest Oklahoma is caught at present, are exposure injuries, Nightingale said.

“I remember years ago in Fairview, when I was a Fairview police officer, we did have a gentleman out from OKC or Tulsa,” Nightengale said. “He did become stranded and got hypothermia and become disoriented and we found him lying in a creek.”

Nightengale said the man became hypothermic and began taking his coat and clothes off because he thought he was hot. Often in cases of hypothermia, a person’s mental condition suffers and they become confused, he said.

“He did not survive the incident,” he said.

For that reason, Nightengale reminds travelers to plan your trip, even if it is to the quick stop.

Don’t just jump in there with flip-flops on and think you are just running down the road to the store, it might wind up that you have to walk somewhere for help.”