High winds force flight cancellations at DFW

Posted Monday, Feb. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Winds eased slightly around 5 p.m. Monday as a storm system that blanketed the Panhandle and Oklahoma with snow edged into the counties west of the Metroplex.

But earlier high winds, nearing 40 mph, forced airlines at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to cancel about 100 flight departures on Monday afternoon.

The airport clocked top wind speeds at 38 mph around 4 p.m., but an hour later, they decreased to 32 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

The winds were forced out ahead of the storm system, but the nearest the snow got to Tarrant County was southeast Palo Pinto County, where snowfall was reported about 4 p.m.

No accumulations were recorded, probably because of warm surface temperatures, said Jennifer Dunn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

She added that clouds were moving into North Texas late Monday afternoon, which may have caused the dip in wind speeds.

Earlier, the powerful winds and severe weather in other parts of the country caused flight departure cancellations at DFW, said David Magana, airport spokesman.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller updated Monday evening that there were 250 cancellations systemwide, which includes American Eagle. Of those, 220 weather cancellations both arriving and departing at DFW. And of those, 120 were due to winds at DFW and 100 were because of bad weather elsewhere.

There may be additional flights canceled on Tuesday if the high winds continue in North Texas, he said.

Airport officials said passengers can check the status of their flights at dfwairport.com/flights/index.php.

Magana said airport officials were expecting "possible delays or cancellations," so they enabled the airport's irregular operations plan for Monday night. He explained those measures keep "concessionaires and some security checkpoints open past normal hours to accommodate passengers with altered travel plans."

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for DFW for wind gusts in excess of 40 miles per hour. Crosswinds at that speed may require the FAA to limit air traffic at DFW because not all of the runways could be used with those wind issues, Magana said.

Temperatures Monday afternoon fell about 10 degrees from about 55 at 3:30 p.m. to 44 at 5 p.m.

There may be a little precipitation overnight that could bring a snowflake or two, especially north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

While North Texas will have to deal with gusty winds, it is nothing compared to what the Texas Panhandle and parts of Oklahoma were coping with on Monday.

A blizzard warning was in effect for all of the Texas Panhandle and as far south as Lubbock.

U.S. 287 was clear from Fort Worth to Wichita Falls, where a winter weather advisory was in effect.

Travel deteriorates quickly west of Wichita Falls on U.S. 287 as the blizzard warning includes Childress. Conditions were also poor northward into Oklahoma where a winter storm warning was in effect for Oklahoma City and a winter weather advisory as far south as Ardmore.

In Amarillo, TxDOT said on its Twitter account that it was "a blizzard of historic proportions," and that I-40 was closed across the Panhandle from the Oklahoma to New Mexico border. All roads in the Amarillo area were impassable.

"It's OK from here to Wichita Falls but it's pretty bad in the Texas Panhandle, the South Plains and across western Oklahoma," said National Weather Service meteorologist Jesse Moore. "The schools are shut down in Lubbock, they're advising you not to travel at all in Amarillo and it's going to be getting worse today around Oklahoma City."

The blizzard conditions have also forced the Amarillo airport to close.

In Oklahoma City, airlines have begun canceling flights ahead of the storm. Will Rogers World Airport tweeted that American Airlines "has canceled all flights after 12:55 p.m. today thru 10:40 a.m. tomorrow."

Meanwhile in Central Texas, the strong winds caused the issuance of a red flag warning as conditions will be favorable for wildfires around the Austin area and parts of the Hill Country.

Locally, the winds will remain strong much of Monday night with gusts as high as 40 mph and a low near 34. A wind advisory was extended to 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Winds will gradually decrease through the day Tuesday with highs in the upper 50s. High temperatures will remain in the 50s through the rest of the week and it is expected to stay dry from Tuesday through the weekend.

INTERACTIVE STORM TRACKER

Staff writer Andrea Ahles contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna, (817) 390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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