NORMAN, Okla. — A powerful storm began blowing through Oklahoma and the southern Plains on the first day of spring Saturday, bringing heavy snow and strong winds a day after temperatures reached into the 70s.
Forecasters said gusts of up to 40 mph could create drifts of blowing snow and blizzard conditions in what the National Weather Service called "a potentially life-threatening" storm. Authorities attributed at least three deaths in three states to the weather.
Much of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and parts of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas were under a winter storm warning that was to last into today. Travel was being discouraged in central and northern Oklahoma, where authorities said roads were slick and hazardous. Several flights were delayed or canceled at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City because of snow and freezing fog, spokeswoman Karen Carney said.
Authorities reported dozens of wrecks amid heavy snow and high winds, many of them with injuries. Single deaths were reported in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Forecasters said snow accumulations will average 4 to 8 inches over much of northern, central and eastern Oklahoma, with up to a foot in some areas northeast of Oklahoma City. In Kansas, 6 to 12 inches of snow were possible.
The storm is the third major winter storm to hit Oklahoma in the last three months. Forecasters, though, said that this time temperatures should rebound into the 60s as soon as Monday.
"This will be kind of short-lived," said National Weather Service meteorologist John Pike in Norman. "Tomorrow it will be moving out and we'll start a warming trend after that."