Snow gives way to drizzle in Dallas-Fort Worth

For the second time in six days, North Texans are dealing with snow, which began in Dallas-Fort Worth around 3 p.m. Tuesday but wasn't expected to create the same problems as the Christmas Eve storm.

Snow was reported in north Fort Worth, Denton and at DFW Airport up until 7 p.m., and the temperature had hit the freezing mark. Light snow was reported in most other Tarrant County cities, with temperatures hovering between 33 and 34 degrees. Dallas also reported light snow.

By 8 p.m., the snow had given way to a drizzle and temperatures had risen above freezing in most of Tarrant County, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday, which means rain, snow or a combination of both may cause travel difficulties, according to the weather service

Visibility was limited in some areas, but forecasters were not predicting widespread problems with icing on the roads.

“We’re finally seeing snow moving into the immediate Metroplex and, at times, producing visibility of a half-mile to a quarter-mile,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn said about 3:30 p.m.

“It’s probably been snowing a half-hour and it’s just now starting to stick to grassy surfaces. Most of what we’ve heard has been that, even west of the Metroplex, it’s generally a dusting, maybe enough to cover the grass.

"In Stephens County (Breckenridge), though, they did report one to two inches on grassy surfaces, but some of that is starting to melt.”

Pockets of ice could still form, particularly on bridges on the western outskirts of Dallas-Fort Worth, Dunn said.

“Temperatures have been falling and, seeing that changeover, there is the potential for refreezing,” she said. “But as far as we know, the roads are fine.

"We are forecasting temperatures to remain at or kind of near freezing, but in outlying areas the potential for freezing is probably a little bit higher. ... "As snow falls, you can tell it’s melting when it hits the concrete.

"We may have freezing conditions for a couple of hours overnight. Just use caution. We don’t have the wind we had the other day to really knock those temperatures down.”

The snow has been steadily falling at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for the past four hours and that has led to about 125 departure cancellations, airport spokesman David Magana said late Tuesday afternoon.

That represents about 15 percent of the airport's daily departures.

Magana said the airport has been running deicing operations since 6 a.m. and has deiced every departing plane since 2 this afternoon.

Aside from the cancellations, most flights are able to leave the airport with only 15- to 30-minute delays.

Tuesday's culprit is a strong upper-level disturbance -- not as strong as the one that delivered a record 3 inches to DFW Airport last week -- that pushed in from the west.

After an overnight low around freezing, it's expected to be about 34 degrees at sunup Wednesday, and there will be a gradual warmup to 50 degrees around 2 or 3 p.m., said meteorologist Jessica Schultz. Wednesday morning commuters, however, should still be wary of isolated traffic hazards.

"The roads are not going to dry out overnight," Schultz said, "so in the morning, the roads should still be wet.

"There very well could be some ice out there."

State road crews headed out early Tuesday, spreading an anti-icing substance to keep bridges passable, Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Holly Hughes said.

"They've been out pre-treating since about 9:30," she said, adding that roads and bridges are being treated in Tarrant, Johnson, Parker, Wise and several other counties on the western side of Dallas-Fort Worth.

"We've got crews in all areas ready to go out. They'll work until midnight."

The pre-treatment is a liquid magnesium chloride -- which, when used effectively -- prevents ice crystals from bonding to road pavement.

However, it's a bit tricky to use in North Texas, where snow is often preceded by a cold rain. The rain can wash the pre-treatment into the gutter, allowing the ice to form anyway.

"At least they're out there trying," Hughes said. "We're prepared for it."

If ice forms, the agency can also apply granular forms of deicing material.

In Dallas, TxDOT crews were pre-treating the High Five interchange of LBJ Freeway and Central Expressway, which has several miles of bridges and flyovers and can create a commuting nightmare when it freezes.

The cities of Fort Worth and Arlington were also prepared for the snow.

Sanding crews planned to hit the streets around midday to start monitoring the situation, said Bill Begley, a city spokesman.

Begley said Fort Worth would have 24 sand and salt trucks available. Drivers will be on 12-hour shifts, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., to handle surface streets.

“My message is, be safe, be smart,” Begley said. “Think about your travel plan, go early and take your time. Safety is the key.”

In Arlington, two road crews with sand trucks will respond to slick spots Tuesday evening, a city worker said. One crew will handle the north side while the other works the south, with Mayfield Road as the dividing line.

It is unusual to see snow twice within a week in Texas, but not unprecedented, Schultz said.

In December 2000, Eastland County received a foot of snow from the 25th to the 27th, and nearby Hamilton, Bosque and Erath counties saw 4 to 8 inches.

Then, on New Year's Eve, an additional 1 to 3 inches were recorded across North Texas, Schultz said.

That was the first time that much snow was recorded during a span of a week in the region since weather watchers began compiling data in 1895, Schultz said.

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