Ice storm freezes city

Posted Monday, Dec. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After a storm sheathed the area in ice Thursday evening, turning roads into skating rinks, Mansfield police urged everyone to stay home. And a lot of people listened.

The Mansfield school district closed campuses Friday and, as below-freezing temperatures persisted, kept them closed Monday to give icy roads a chance to clear. City Hall and city office were also closed Friday, and opened at 10 a.m. Monday.

“We have had multiple accidents,” Mansfield police spokesperson Thad Penkala said Friday morning. “By 9 p.m. (Thursday), we had several multiple-car accidents.”

Bridges and overpasses were especially treacherous, Penkala said, citing the overpasses on Broad Street and FM 157.

The Metroplex received 1 to 2 inches of a combination of freezing rain and sleet, said Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. The cold contributed to the problem as the temperature fell below freezing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and didn’t climb above the 32-degree mark until 4:35 p.m. Sunday, Moore said.

The school district built in two bad weather days into its calendar -- Feb. 17 and June 6 -- when students will make up the two missed days of school.

The city’s annual Hometown Holidays event at City Hall, planned for Friday evening, and the Saturday afternoon parade through downtown also were rescheduled for this Saturday. The Hometown Holidays parade will begin at 3 p.m. at St. Jude Catholic Church on East Dallas Street and run down Main Street. Hometown Holidays activities will be held from 4-6 p.m. at City Hall, 1200 E. Broad St.

“Due to the inclement weather, it wouldn’t have been possible to have the events,” said Mayor David Cook, who said he was against outright canceling the event. “We have a lot of citizens that look forward to it on an annual basis. I received calls, messages and saw Facebook posts expressing optimism that the parade would be rescheduled as opposed to being canceled.

“A lot of businesses and individuals spend time on their floats and entries,” he said.

TxDOT was “extremely helpful” to help change the date for the parade on Main Street, which is also a state roadway, the mayor said.

The Hometown Holidays event at City Hall will be a slimmed down version of what was originally planned, said Belinda Willis, city spokesperson.

“Several of our vendors and activities could not reschedule,” she said, including the snow hills, reindeer, Dallas Zoo penguins and some of the choirs.

Horse-drawn carriage rides, arts and crafts, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, fireworks and the city tree lighting are still planned, she said. The event is free.

City officials met Thursday and decided that the cold and ice were too dangerous, Willis said.

“We don’t want to jeopardize the safety of our residents or tempt them to get on the road,” she said. “It would be asking a lot of little people who love this event to come out. With temperatures in the 20s, that’s pretty cold to be outside for a period of time.”

Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM

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