Rain, sleet still in forecast, but winter warning canceled

11/24/2013 1:20 PM

11/25/2013 1:49 PM

North Texans could still face an interesting commute this morning, but it’s not likely to be as bad as feared: Late Sunday, the weather service canceled a winter storm warning and said temperatures were not expected to dip much below freezing.

A mix of rain and sleet remained in the forecast, but accumulations were expected to be less than a quarter-inch, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said. Bridges and overpasses could be slick.

The freezing precipitation was expected to be out of the area by midday, the weather service said. Today’s forecast high is 33, and temperatures are expected to warm into the 50s and 60s late in the week.

A winter storm warning was in effect in North Texas for most of Sunday, with forecasters calling for an 80 percent chance of precipitation and temperatures in the upper 20s by early today. The weather service initially predicted that as much as a half-inch of sleet or ice could be on the ground in some spots when people headed to work.

Around 8 p.m. Sunday, the warning was downgraded to a winter weather advisory.

Most of North Texas also dodged wintry problems Sunday, as temperatures stayed just above freezing.

“Like many times in North Texas, a couple of degrees will make or break conditions,” meteorologist Steve Fans said at the weather service office in Fort Worth. “On Sunday, temperatures stayed in the 30- to 34-degrees range, and that wasn’t quite cold enough.”

Some school districts, including Dallas, will decide whether to delay classes or to close after assessing conditions early today. Students in Fort Worth, Carroll and Birdville are already scheduled to be out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The threat of wintry weather prompted the cancellation of more than 300 departures Sunday at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, as airlines tried to prevent stranded passengers. And highway crews were out, just in case.

“We didn’t have any major problems on Sunday for most of our area,” said Val Lopez, a spokesman with the Texas Department of Transportation in Fort Worth. “But we’re preparing some bridges and overpasses, and our crews are monitoring the weather.”

Department officials will have 280 sand trucks and vehicles with 500 drivers available should icy conditions occur in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“The drivers will work 12-hour shifts until there’s no problems on highways,” said Michael Peters, another spokesman for the agency.

The winter storm, blamed for at least eight deaths in the West, caused headaches in other parts of Texas and the Southwest on Sunday. It will also threaten Thanksgiving plans for hundreds of travelers.

In North Texas, Thanksgiving Day weather should be mostly clear, with the daytime temperature around 50 degrees.

But after the storm moves through the Southwest, meteorologists expect the Arctic mass to head south and east, threatening plans for Tuesday and Wednesday as people hit the roads and airports for some of the busiest travel days of the year.

On Sunday, some areas of the South Plains reported 2 to 10 inches of snow, according to the weather service office in Lubbock.

Parts of Oklahoma were also under a winter storm warning or advisory.

A mix of rain and sleet began falling north of Dallas on Interstate 35 around midday Sunday, and areas of southwestern Oklahoma woke up to several inches of snow.

Several inches of snow fell overnight in Altus in far southwestern Oklahoma.

Flagstaff, Ariz., reported 11 inches of snow by early Sunday and was expected to get another inch by the end of the day before the storm petered out.

The storm caused hundreds of rollover accidents, including one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson’s band when their bus hit a pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas.

In Arizona, where 8,000 cyclists participated in a rainy race, one cyclist died in a collision with a vehicle.

For travel information, go to drivetexas.org or call the Transportation Department Road Conditions 24-Hour Hotline, 800-452-9292.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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