Ice slows travel on roads across North Texas

03/01/2014 7:30 PM

03/02/2014 11:32 AM

A wintry mix that included thunder sleet covered North Texas Sunday, causing dozens of traffic wrecks and forcing airlines to cancel almost 300 departures from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Highway crews worked to keep ice off bridges and overpasses, but slick conditions were reported throughout North Texas.

“Since 10 a.m., crews pretreated bridges and overpasses, but there are slick spots out there,” said Val Lopez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.

In the Fort Worth district which includes nine counties, TxDOT officials have 130 vehicles to sand and treat iced-over bridges and overpasses.

Airlines serving D/FW Airport announced Sunday that more than 270 departures had been cancelled because of the freezing precipitation. That represented about 29 percent of Sunday’s flight schedule.

De-icing of airplanes continued Sunday afternoon as bitter cold temperatures and sleet continued to fall.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, all North Texas cities were reporting temperatures well below freezing, according to the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth. Many cities were reporting wind chill readings in the single digits.

Temperatures dropped sharply Sunday after Saturday’s balmy afternoon. On Saturday at 1 p.m, it was 76 degrees. At 1 p.m. Sunday, it was 25 degrees at D/FW Airport.

The National Weather Service Office in Fort Worth issued a winter storm warning for freezing rain and sleet at 11:37 a.m. The warning was scheduled to expire at 9 p.m.

Temperatures were colder than expected, the weather service said, which means more sleet than freezing rain. The sleet will make ice accumulations likely, the forecast said.

Travel is expected to be hazardous the rest of the day and into Monday morning. Dozens of minor and major traffic accidents had been reported in Fort Worth on Sunday because of icy conditions.

Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office, said Saturday that there is a possibility of thunderstorms throughout the day.

“But it shouldn’t be anything severe,” he said. “Maybe some lightning.”

Some areas of Tarrant County experienced thunder sleet as the icy stuff fell amid thunder and lightning.

Precipitation will end in the evening but below-freezing temperatures will continue into Monday morning, with 15 to 20 mph winds and wind chills near zero.

“It’s going to be even colder Monday morning,” Moore said. “If there is any precipitation on the roads, it will be frozen, which could impact travel depending on what evaporates overnight.

Today is the 52nd day of freezing temperatures this winter season, the seventh most in DFW history.

Staff writer Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.

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