Texas ice storm could rival 2011 Super Bowl snow

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm •  Published: December 5, 2013

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The impacts of an ice storm that was moving into North Texas late Thursday could be worse than the snowfalls in the days leading up to the Super Bowl two years ago.

National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy in Fort Worth said the half-inch of freezing rain expected to hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area could also cause power outages in addition to glazing roadways.

"The one big wild card could be ice on tree limbs, purely ice," he said. "That would be my biggest fear: power outages."

Oncor, the energy company that serves about 10 million households across the state of Texas, was preparing for possible outages in North and Central Texas. At a facility in Lancaster, crews prepared backup transformers should bad weather cause mass power outages.

"They can take all the pre-emptive steps they want," Murphy said. "The question would be: How quickly can they get out to access" outages?

The half-inch of freezing rain forecast for Dallas-Fort Worth is about the liquid equivalent of the snow that fell over three days in the week leading up to the 2011 Super Bowl played in Arlington. The freezing rain will fall for as long as nine hours, Murphy said. In 2011, the 3 inches of snow that fell Feb. 1-4 came over three days.

The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and the North Texas Tollway Authority were preparing scores of dump trucks to spread sand and de-icing agents along bridges, overpasses and thoroughfares.

The temperatures across North Texas won't get above freezing until at least Monday, Murphy said, meaning ice coating roads, bridges and overpasses won't melt until at least then.

Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Hartzel said crews in Denton, Collins and Dallas counties pretreated roadways to keep them passable. Liquid magnesium chloride, a salt that prevents the formation of ice on roads was being applied on Interstates 35 and 20, and U.S. 67 and 75 in the three counties. Only bridges and overpasses on major thoroughfares in Navarro, Rockwall, Ellis and Kaufman counties, he said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday issued an emergency proclamation directing additional state resources to prepare for the storm system. On Wednesday, he activated the Texas National Guard and deployed equipment and other emergency resources to Wichita Falls and Sherman. The Texas Department of Public Safety was discouraging non-essential travel in affected areas.

Officials at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport advised passengers and those meeting flights to check with their airlines for the latest information, or check the Flight Information page at www.dfwairport.com/flights. Airlines were ready to begin de-icing planes when the freezing rain arrived.

American Airlines and American Eagle canceled nearly 500 flights as the wintry blast swept across much of the U.S. Fort Worth-based American announced the cancellations systemwide in anticipation of deteriorating travel conditions.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines did not cancel any flights Thursday but was monitoring the worsening weather. A travel advisory was posted on its website warning of the possibility of flight delays, spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said.

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