FORT WORTH -- In North Texas, snow and ice on the roadways is generally not a welcome sight.Unless you drive a tow truck.
And then, Mother Nature’s moodiness means big business.
“It’s true,” said Sam Knight, vice president of operations at Texas Towing Wrecker Service. “When people are out on snow and ice and get into trouble, they need someone qualified to get them free and back on the road. Our calls double and triple. It is a profitable time in the towing business.”
Tuesday afternoon could be another lucrative day for North Texas’ wrecker companies as another round of snow is predicted to fall after lunchtime, with a 60 percent chance of precipitation. Snow accumulations of about 1 inch are expected in most areas, although places west of Interstate 35 could get as much as 3 inches. The temperature is not expected to get above 36 degrees.
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North Texas will be under a winter weather advisory from 9 a.m. Tuesday until 9 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth said.
“It won’t be quite as bad as we saw on Christmas Eve, but it will probably make the bridges and overpasses slick, once again,” said Mark Fox, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Forth Worth.
North Texans are still talking about the Christmas Eve storm, which created blizzard-like conditions and buried Tarrant County under 2 to 4 inches of snow, marking the first time in more than 80 years that North Texans had a true white Christmas.
It also made a mess of the roadways. From noon on Christmas Eve until noon on Christmas Day, for example, Fort Worth police reported 140 major accidents and 249 minor accidents, said Sgt. Chad Mahaffey, a police spokesman.
MedStar, likewise, responded to 363 calls during the same period - a 28 percent increase in daily call volume from the week before, which was attributed, in part, to weather-related accidents, said Matt Zavadsky, a Medstar spokesman.
Knight said Texas Towing responded to about 300 calls for disabled, stuck or stranded vehicles, including some in Wichita Falls, an area they generally do not cover. On a dry day in Tarrant County, he said, they usually average about 80 calls.
“One of our trucks was coming back from Wichita Falls on Christmas Eve night and he was coming back empty after doing what he needed to do,” Knight said. “He was flagged down eight times between Wichita Falls and Fort Worth to pull out big, heavy duty trucks.”
Knight and his employees are gearing up for another big weather event on Tuesday, as are law enforcement, medical personnel and sanding crews.
Holly Hughes, a TXDOT spokeswoman, said crews have plenty of sand and de-icing materials, despite the Christmas Eve storm. She said there are 200 employees responsible for covering Tarrant County and eight other counties and they are prepared to work 24-hour shifts, if needed.
“We have the crews and equipment ready to go,” she said. “It will be a wait and see. We are prepared for anything that should happen.”
DPS Trooper Lonny Haschel said the Christmas Eve snow storm should remind motorists to be prepared. Check fluid levels on vehicles, charge cellphone batteries and pack an emergency kit that contains medicine, food and water.
Should you get in trouble, there is a number for roadside assistance on the back of Texas’ driver’s licenses and vehicle inspection stickers, he said.
“Always, always, always add a little time in your itinerary,” he said. “We had people stranded for 11 and 12 hour on Christmas Eve.”
And while Tuesday could be another busy day for tow truck drivers, the rest of the week likely will be business as usual. The forecast calls for warmer -- and drier -- weather.
“By Wednesday afternoon, most of it will be gone,” Fox said.