White Christmas in DFW turns to black ice

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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Christmas Day started out a dreary gray across North Texas, but by midafternoon it was decidedly white.

Tuesday night the snow turned to ice.

Freeways and city streets were mostly free of ice throughout the day, but conditions worsened as it grew dark and numerous wrecks were reported Tuesday night.

Authorities warned that the roads would become even more treacherous overnight for morning commuters.

Highway, safety and weather officials were urging caution, especially on bridges and overpasses, on Wednesday.

“Icy conditions will be around,” said meteorologist Tom Bradshaw with the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth.

A winter weather advisory was in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday with the low temperature as of shortly before 7 a.m. at 22 degrees with wind chill readings in the single digits.

The Fort Worth district of the Texas Department of Transportation has 160 drivers and trucks working for a 10-county area that included Tarrant, Parker, Jack, Wise, Parker, Palo Pinto, Erath, Hood, Somervell and Johnson.

“We’ve got crews now working 12-hour shifts,” said Jodi Hodges with the Texas Department of Transportation. “As long as there is ice on the highways, they will be working.”

The snow ended around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Officially, 0.4 of an inch of snow and 1.35 inches of rain were recorded at Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

Much higher snowfall totals were recorded elsewhere.

“Tarrant County got about one to two inches of snow,” Bradshaw said. “There were reports of three to four inches of snow in Denton and Collin counties. Some locations in Wise County got five inches.”

White Christmases are rare - but not unheard of - in North Texas. The last time we saw snow on Christmas Day was in 2009.

The frigid conditions – made worse with winds of 25 to 35 mph – forced about 415 flights to be canceled Tuesday at DFW Airport.

MedStar reported that it had responded to 48 automobile wrecks between 5 and 7:30 p.m.

At the Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth’s homeless district, there were about 575 people housed Tuesday evening. The facility has a capacity of 625.

Before the snowflakes started falling Tuesday afternoon, most North Texans were awakened by booming thunderstorms that crossed through the region bringing rain and some hail.

The high Christmas morning was 47 degrees, but freezing temperatures soon followed and by early Tuesday afternoon the rain turned to a cold, stinging snow.

Hodges said highway crews were using snow plows in Jack and Wise counties Tuesday afternoon to clear highways.

"Crews were out treating bridges and overpasses in north Tarrant County," Hodges said. "That’s been where we have seen the heaviest amount of snow."

At DFW Airport, de-icing operations were causing about a 20-minute delay on departing flights Tuesday afternoon, said David Magana, an airport spokesman.

Airport officials encouraged passengers to check their flight status before arriving at the airport.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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