A polar blast tightened its grip on North Texas on Thursday, and overnight temperatures dropped into the teens.The mercury slid downward throughout the day, peaking at 45 about 12:15 a.m. By 10 p.m., it had reached 27. The temperature got down to 19 before dawn with a wind chill of 10. At the Fort Worth Stock Show, which opened over the weekend with sunny skies and mild temperatures, officials didn’t open the midway Thursday because of the cold. The wind chill dipped to 14 degrees early in the evening and was still there at 10 p.m. Winds were clocked at 30 mph, with gusts at 35 mph.“It’s cold, but a lot of it is the wind,” spokeswoman Shanna Weaver said. “We play every day by ear. It will be a judgment call whether it opens as scheduled Friday at 2 p.m.”Meanwhile, a power outage in Benbrook made for an even colder night for about 3,000 residents. A large power cable failed, causing a distribution feeder to go out, said Justin Ozuna, spokesman for Oncor Electric Delivery.The outage was reported at 6:30 p.m., but power to half the customers was restored three hours later. Everyone else was expected to be back on line in another hour, Ozuna said.Volunteers in Tarrant and Parker counties bundled up against the cold Thursday evening for the annual Homeless Count, a volunteer effort to give a census of homeless people to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.The cold might help the count because more homeless people might seek shelter, said Cindy J. Crain, executive director of the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.Last year, 2,390 people were identified as homeless in the two counties, according to the coalition’s data.No records for cold were broken Thursday. That distinction goes to Jan. 23, 1966, which reached a low of 9, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. (The record high for the date is 88 in 1943, and it was a balmy 75 a year ago.)And it hadn’t been that long since the mercury dipped into the teens. The low on Jan. 6 was 15, and it edged up to 19 on Jan. 7 and again this morning.This is the 34th day below freezing for the winter of 2013-14.It will actually be warmer Friday in Sochi, Russia, site of the upcoming Winter Olympics, where the highs are in the low 40s with light rain, the Weather Channel reported.At least there’s no precipitation in the North Texas forecast. Freezing rain, sleet and snow fell Thursday night in the Hill Country, including Austin and San Antonio, where a winter storm advisory was in effect through Friday as Pacific moisture collides with the strong cold front. The entire Houston area is under a winter storm watch through Friday morning with up to a fifth of an inch of freezing rain and snow forecast. Sleet and snow flurries are even expected in Galveston, where a low of 30 was expected overnight.“It’s pretty unusual to see these conditions in Houston. That only happens every five or 10 years,” said meteorologist Nick Hampshire, noting that the Pacific moisture responsible for the wintry mix is expected to stay south of Waco.On Friday Friday’s forecast calls for sun and a high of 42 but with wind chills of 10 to 20.Temperatures as low as 10 were possible in outlying areas, “especially in the north and west” of the Metroplex, said Dan Huckaby, a weather service meteorologist in Fort Worth.Temperatures in DFW will rebound into the high 60s on Saturday and Sunday before another cold front drops nighttime lows back into the 20s on Monday and Tuesday.Next week’s front will also be dry, but it will be accompanied by winds gusting up to 30 mph Monday, Hampshire said.
Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp