- Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A powerful winter storm pummeled Oklahoma with ice and flooding, leaving more than 50 people injured Monday, knocking out power to nearly 200,000 customers and snarling traffic on roads and at airports.

Rescuers recovered the body of a 22-year-old Arkansas man from a lake in northern Oklahoma and were searching for a second man who was believed to be in a boat with him, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons. Authorities in Pittsburg County also were searching for a motorist whose pickup truck was swept off a flooded roadway.

Police in far southwest Oklahoma City discovered the body of a woman outside early Monday that was being investigated as a potential exposure death, but there were no other confirmed storm-related fatalities, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner’s office.

Timmons identified the man recovered from Kaw Lake as Chase Marland of Van Buren, Arkansas. A second man, 29-year-old Craig Strickland of Springdale, Arkansas was still missing. Strickland is the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country-rock band Backroad Anthem, which posted on its Facebook page that the two men went missing after going duck hunting on Sunday. Searchers found the men’s capsized boat shortly after midnight, but not the two men, the patrol reported.

Much of eastern Oklahoma had heavy rain, with two-day totals of up to 12 inches and record flooding in some locations, while western and north-central parts of the state had freezing precipitation that iced roads and power lines, according to the National Weather Service.

“The freezing line was right across central Oklahoma, and we saw a very narrow corridor of freezing rain, an ice storm, where we’ve seen up to an inch of ice measured and significant power outages due to the strong winds,” said weather service meteorologist Ryan Barnes. “We saw gusts exceeding 70 mph at a few locations.”

There were 56 injuries reported, mostly slips and falls, and nearly 200,000 homes and businesses without power Monday afternoon, said Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain.

In northeastern Oklahoma, record flooding occurred along the Illinois River near Tahlequah, which had more than 11 inches of rain over two days. Water rescues were reported in eastern Oklahoma and flood warnings remained in effect Monday for nearly a dozen rivers and creeks, including the Canadian River near Calvin, the Neosho River near Chouteau, and the Washita River in southern Oklahoma.

The storm system pushed out of northeast Oklahoma early Monday afternoon, but temperatures were expected to remain at or below freezing across much of Oklahoma, with overnight lows in the teens in central Oklahoma and single digits in in western parts of the state.

A second, quick moving storm was expected to push into western Oklahoma Tuesday night and bring 1-2 inches of snowfall, Barnes said.


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