A bone-rattling cold front continues to march toward North Texas, bringing temperatures that will dip into the teens and a chance of freezing drizzle that could make driving on bridges and overpasses a little dicey.
But make no mistake, “this is not expected to be an ice storm,” said Steve Fano, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
So while you’ll need to be careful, there’s no need to rush to the store to stock up on milk and eggs. You should, however, take care of plants and pipes.
Tarrant County and those to the north and west stand the best chance precipitation — mostly a wintry mix of freezing drizzle and light snow — which could make driving hazardous late Saturday through early Sunday, New Year’s Eve. Areas to the south and east are expected to receive freezing drizzle.
Texas Department of Transportation crews were out on area freeways Friday morning, spewing a liquid, salty concoction of anti-icing treatment onto bridges and overpasses.
Just before noon Friday, the crews were focusing on Interstate 20 and West Loop 820 in the western portion of Tarrant County. Another transportation crew was in the Grapevine area Friday morning, patching potholes and applying anti-icing treatment to bridges and overpasses, TexDot spokeswoman Natalie Galindo said.
Crews will be available all weekend to apply anti-icing treatment to area roads, she said. If winter precipitation sticks to the roads, the crews can continue to use the liquid treatment, or they can switch to a more solid deicing material that includes sand and magnesium chloride granules.
“All crews are going to be on standby. We will continue to monitor the situation and, if a winter event does happen, we will be ready,” she said.
Monday’s low: 19 degrees
The cold front — really an arctic blast — will arrive midday Saturday and gradually cool down temperatures throughout the day.
“It won’t be totally noticeable,” Fano said. We’re not expecting temperatures to fall below freezing until mid to late evening. About that same time, there could be some very light drizzle that could become freezing drizzle.”
He said that because the precipitation will be “paper thin,” the conditions should not cause major issues “outside of the normal problem areas” that are being treated by TxDOT crews.
Saturday’s high temperature — likely in the mid-40s — will come in the morning, then drop throughout the day.
By Sunday morning the DFW area should see freezing temperatures between 30 and 32 degrees.
The coldest air will flow in Sunday afternoon and drop temperatures to 17 degrees Monday morning and 16 on Tuesday.
The good news?
“When that real surge of cold air comes in it will dry us out,” Fano said.
Temperatures will remain cold through Wednesday morning, when it will gradually warm in the afternoon — before another cold front blows in.
“We saw similar things to this last year, with five days in a row of freezing temperatures,” Fano said, referencing low temperatures of 32, 26, 19, 14 and 20 from Jan. 4 through Jan. 20.
32 degrees on Dec. 7, the season’s first freeze at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
4 days of freezing temperatures in December, including 22 degrees on Dec. 8.
16 days of low temperatures in the 30s or lower in December.
11 days of freezing temperatures during the winter season of 2016-17, the fewest ever in DFW. The last freeze was on Jan. 8, a record for the earliest last freeze.
Keep pipes from bursting
Unhook outdoor water hoses from faucets and wrap those faucets with store-bought covers or do it yourself with foam, rags or other material and secure it with string or tape.
Open the doors under sinks so the pipes can receive warm air.
Let at least one indoor faucet drip to keep water circulating.
After the freeze passes, if a leak is detected, turn off the water and contact a plumber.
Staying warm inside
Keep the temperature at 55 degrees or warmer in your home.
Never turn on ovens and leave the door open for heat.
Electric space heaters are considered safer than portable heaters that are fueled by natural gas, propane or kerosene.
Keep space heaters at least 36 inches away from any combustible material.
If using a fuel-fired portable heater inside, leave a window partially open to allow fresh air into the house. It’s also smart to have a carbon monoxide monitor.
If you’re out and about
Make sure your car is in good shape before heading out. Windshield wipers should be fresh. Tires should have plenty of tread and your battery should be lively. Carry extra coats, gloves, boots and a candle if case you get stranded.
Be extra careful when driving on bridges, overpasses, ramps and shaded areas — all of which tend to freeze first.
If your vehicle begins to slide, slow down — without braking — and steer into the direction of the skid.
Don’t tailgate. Instead of allowing three to four seconds of distance between you and the car ahead, make it eight to 10 seconds.
About those plants
Potted plants and flowers should be brought inside.
Use mulch and frost cloths or plant blankets to cover flower beds and vegetable gardens.
This article contains information from AAA, the Texas Department of Transportation and Star-Telegram archives.