Heavier-than-expected snowfall caused a flurry of fender-benders across Tarrant County roadways Friday afternoon, but once the snow stopped conditions improved dramatically.
The frigid conditions won’t be improving, however, until Saturday afternoon, when temperatures are expected to rise above freezing for the first time since Thursday night.
Much of the Dalllas-Fort Worth area received a light dusting Friday morning before a second band of snow moved in about 1 p.m., snowing steadily for about three hours.
The mid-day snowfall made some roadways, overpasses and underpasses slick, and numerous minor accidents were reported. Many North Texas school districts canceled after-school activities.
MedStar ambulance service was working 25 accidents in the Fort Worth area at 3 p.m., spokesman Matt Zavadsky said. The calls on those began about 2:15 p.m. None of the accidents had resulted in serious injuries, but most of the patients were taken to hospitals, Zavadsky said.
By 4 p.m., Fort Worth firefighters had responded to 70 vehicle accidents in two hours, the department tweeted.
Arlington police said they responded to 31 total accidents — 20 major, 11 minor — in one hour, including a five-vehicle crash on the Collins Street bridge above Interstate 30. At one point, the Arkansas Lane bridge above Texas 360 was closed.
One-tenth of an inch of snow was measured at DFW Airport, the first measurable amount since a trace was recorded on Dec. 28, 2016. The last significant snowfall occurred on March 3 and March 4 in 2015, when 3.5 inches fell.
Other areas to the north received much more; Gainesville received 1.25 inches.
Texas Department of Transportation workers were in their “24/7 mode” Friday, spokesman Val Lopez said.
The department had about 140 worker vehicles on the road in the Fort Worth area, treating slick spots on bridges and overpasses where necessary.
While the snow has stopped, the cold weather will continue overnight, with Saturday morning’s low expected to dip to a teeth-chattering 17 degrees.
The Friday morning flurries came from a combination of winds and extremely dry air, which provided the perfect recipe for lake-effect snows from Lake Grapevine, Lake Lewisville, Lake Worth and Lake Texoma, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Cain. The weather service detected lake-effect flurries on radar as far south as Johnson County on Friday morning.
“The air is cold enough, the wind is blowing in the right direction, and there’s just enough moisture,” Cain said. “It’s just an oddity. But it’s not going to be anything like what you see in Buffalo.”
Cain is talking about Buffalo, N.Y., where the lake-effect creates major snowstorms. In November 2014, snowstorms rolling in off Lake Erie dumped almost 7 feet of snow on Buffalo.
Friday afternoon’s high was 27 degrees, a new record for the lowest maximum temperature on Jan. 6, beating the previous record of 29 degrees set in 1970. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-30s on Saturday and climb to the 70s by Tuesday.