Ice-packed roads that greeted commuters Thursday morning later gave way to snowmen, which sprang to life across North Texas.
Sometime Friday they should both be gone, the last remnants of a series of winter blasts that made roads impassable, shut down schools, caused wrecks and forced hundreds of flight cancellations.
Spring break can’t get here soon enough.
“The weather looks great from here on out. We are all done with this terrible winter weather,” said Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
Officially, 3.5 inches of snow fell at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, but parts of Grapevine saw as much as 7 inches. Most of Tarrant County saw 3 to 4 inches, with higher totals in the north.
The snowfall was the region’s biggest since Feb. 11, 2010, when 11.2 inches fell at DFW Airport. And it was the biggest March snowfall since March 7, 1947, when 3.9 inches fell.
Friday morning’s commute should be a lot smoother, with only a few patches of ice here and there, forecasters say.
With no chance of precipitation early Friday, the only issue is that below-freezing temperatures could solidify any remaining slush from Thursday, Ryan said.
Drivers should be wary of underpasses and places shaded by trees or buildings.
“People will probably just need to be on the lookout for ice in the morning. They shouldn’t do any sudden traffic maneuvers,” Ryan said.
Temperatures were expected to fall below freezing Thursday night but rise to the 50s Friday afternoon.
With higher temperatures and much-needed sunshine, there should be no road issues by midday, Ryan said.
And next week looks even better.
Spring break will actually, sort of, feel like spring break.
Sunday showers are expected to carry over a bit into Monday, but the rest of the week will be sunny with highs in the 60s and 70s, Ryan said.
Snowmen spring up
Thousands of children who got a day off from school Thursday flocked to places like Trinity Park for the chance to use a sled to glide down snow-covered hills. Others walked their dogs through the snow or simply took a stroll.
No matter the age, the snow day was a welcome break from school.
Near TCU, Raleigh Castor, 15, and his friends channeled their inner little kids by pelting friends with snowballs. In the South Hills neighborhood, Eloise and Emily Dilda built a snowman and named him Olaf (in honor of the Frozen character). His eyes were made of cucumbers and his mouth was a tomato.
“We slept and woke up to a winter wonderland,” their grandmother Cynthia Bennett said.
But it wasn’t all fun for North Texans.
Fort Worth police said they responded to 393 weather-related calls for service from 4 p.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. Thursday.
Hospitals saw an uptick in patients with weather-related injuries.
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth handled two weather-related falls, and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth saw one ice-related injury, Texas Health spokeswoman Megan Brooks said.
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle saw three falls and one sledding accident, she said.
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center reported several falls and a shoulder dislocation in its emergency department, spokeswoman Angel Biasatti said.
Surprise cancels flights
Why so much snow?
The air above the ground got colder sooner than expected, weather service meteorologist Dennis Cavanaugh said.
“We had the precipitation about right,” Cavanaugh said. “But what most people don’t realize is a half-inch of ice has about the same amount of water as 3 to 4 inches of snow.”
About 800 arrivals and departures were canceled at DFW Airport on Thursday, about 40 percent of the airport’s usual flight schedule.
DFW planned to keep concessions open late to accommodate passengers arriving on late-night flights that may have been delayed.
American Airlines canceled 750 mainline and regional flights in and out of DFW on Thursday but was back to normal operations by the afternoon.
Over 3,800 flights were canceled nationwide Thursday as the winter storm moved east.
Downtown a ghost town
The snowfall was breathtakingly beautiful as the sun began to shine early Thursday, but conditions — on side streets, highways and sidewalks — were slick and dangerous.
Many people stayed home, especially those with schoolchildren, while others kept off the main highways and found alternative routes to work.
Riders who took the Trinity Railway Express from the Hurst-Bell Station were dismayed to learn that bus service in Fort Worth was suspended because of the icy conditions.
“It looks like it will be a crunchy walk,” said Missy Brown, a north Arlington resident who takes the TRE when the weather is bad. Brown had to make the treacherous walk to the Burnett Building, about five blocks from the train stop.
What she and others discovered during their walk was a ghost town: Downtown Fort Worth was largely deserted at 7 a.m.
“Many riders stayed in the ITC lobby where it was warm and were briefed when the T decided it would be safe to resume bus service at 9 a.m.,” said Joan Hunter, spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, referring to the Intermodal Transportation Center. “We don’t know why those particular passengers decided to walk to their downtown destination.”
Bus service resumed in the Fort Worth area at 9 a.m., Hunter said.
Staff writers Andrea Ahles, Deanna Boyd, Gordon Dickson, Caty Hirst, Diane Smith, Judy Wiley and Lee Williams contributed to this report.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792
Top 5 March snowfalls
▪ March 13, 1924: 6 inches
▪ March 1, 1942: 4.5 inches
▪ March 7, 1947: 3.9 inches
▪ March 4-5, 2015: 3.5 inches
▪ March 17-18, 1934: 2.5 inches