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North Texas bundles up for icy cold evening

North Texans will be spared the heavy snowfall that was predicted for some areas today, but roads could be hazardous in some spots for some time as temperatures aren't expected to climb above freezing until Friday.

A thin layer of ice coated area roads before daybreak, after temperatures quickly plunged from the 40s into the teens. But main highways were largely dry aside from swirls of windswept snow.

Most of the early-morning road problems were in Dallas County, especially on Interstate 30 in downtown Dallas. The Texas Department of Transportation said sand trucks would be working to clear the right lanes of major roadways.

Most major school districts and universities canceled classes for Wednesday, but Fort Worth schools announced Wednesday afternoon that classes would go on as scheduled Thursday. Officials urged parents to bundle up their children.

ERCOT, which manages the state's power grid, said it did not anticipate enacting the rotating outages used during last week's cold snap.

The city of Fort Worth delayed opening its offices until 10 a.m. Wednesday and called off garbage and recycling collection for the remainder of the day.

The biggest issue throughout the day was the cold. Wind gusts out of the northwest to about 40 mph dropped the wind chill to zero and it could drop more, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said.

At 3 p.m. at D/FW Airport, the temperature was 26 degrees with a wind chill of 9.

Among those canceling classes for the day were the Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Keller, Northwest and Dallas school districts. Texas Christian University, Texas Wesleyan University, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington and the Tarrant County College system were also closed.

Officials at some schools made the decision to cancel classes late Tuesday, but many waited until around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday to make the call.

At Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, American Airlines and American Eagle canceled 400 departures and arrivals, a spokesman said. The airport planned to operate an abbreviated flight schedule in the morning, and a full schedule in the afternoon.

At Dallas Love Field, Southwest Airlines canceled 40 departures, with 60 flights canceled systemwide this morning.

Snow, sleet and freezing rain fell on the Metroplex for part of the morning, but had moved east by noon.

"It looks like temperatures will be in the teens, with wind chills flirting with zero degrees," said Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"Last night we had quite a bit of dry air move in, so it really kind of squashed the precipitation. It's going to be enough to cause some problems, but it won't be anything like last week," he said.

And more good news: The forecast is calling for 60 degrees by Saturday and close to 70 on Sunday.

Those who ventured out early Wednesday found some roads that looked a lot like their doughnuts – glazed.

TxDOT sent crews out at 3 a.m. to begin pretreating highways with an ice-melting agent – magnesium chloride – as well as sand.

They were paying particular attention to the interchange of Interstate 35W and Interstate 30, a complex web of elevated roads and flyovers near downtown Fort Worth – famously known as the Fort Worth Mixmaster – which last week was repeatedly plagued by icing.

"We saw light glaze on the Mixmaster, I-20 and I-30. We’ve gone out there and treated that," said transportation department spokesman Val Lopez. "The strong winds are helping to dry up the roadways."

Twelve snowplow crews from the transportation department's Lubbock office were on stand-by in Dallas-Fort Worth, he said.

The city of Fort Worth said its sand trucks were patrolling in areas of the greatest risk, such as bridges on major thoroughfares. But no trucks would be sanding residential streets.

Mass transit is an option for those who don't want to drive. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority reported that its bus routes were running on time Wednesday, except TCU services that weren't needed because classes had been canceled.

The Trinity Railway Express was also running on time.

However, for those traveling to Dallas, Dallas Area Rapid Transit warned riders to expect minor delays on the light-rail system, which runs on electrical overhead lines that are sensitive to freezing precipitation.

At D/FW Airport, crews were pretreating runways. Although 400 American departures and arrivals were canceled Wednesday morning, another 770 outbound flights were still scheduled to depart. Travelers were urged to contact their airline or visit dfwairport.com for the latest flight information.

“Airlines ... anticipate operating a full normal schedule as the snow tapers off about noon,” D/FW spokesman David Magana said. “D/FW has seven deicing pads aligned and ready, and the airlines are deicing every departure this morning.”

Airport roads were pretreated as well, he said.

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