Wintry weather (likely with ice) on its way to North Texas

Even if a storm does hit, it’s unlikely to be as bad as the one that came in December 2013, essentially bringing North Texas to a standstill.
Even if a storm does hit, it’s unlikely to be as bad as the one that came in December 2013, essentially bringing North Texas to a standstill. Star-Telegram archives

A pair of cold fronts are coming to North Texas this weekend, and the second one could deliver an icy punch.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning from 6 p.m. Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday. Forecasters say commuters could wake up to ice-covered roadways on Monday morning.

“We’re expecting upward of a half-inch of sleet,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bishop. “It’s still kind of early but we went ahead and put out the winter storm watch. That way people are expecting to have some wintry weather toward the end of the weekend.”

The first cold front is expected to arrive early Saturday, dropping temperatures from around 60 into the high 30s.

The second cold front will follow on Sunday morning and bring with it a chance of rain during the day, turning into a wintry mix overnight, when temperatures are expected to plunge in the mid-20s.

It may not get above above freezing until sometime Tuesday so road conditions would likely be slippery throughout the day on Monday.

In the winter storm watch advisory, the National Weather Service said “sleet and ice accumulations will make travel hazardous across parts of North Texas. Bridges are likely to ice over first with main roads also accumulating sleet.”

For now, forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of freezing rain overnight Sunday with a low near 26. On Monday, there’s a 70 percent chance of freezing rain and sleet with a high near 31. If there are ice accumulations, the high may not reach freezing and lows Monday night are expected to be around 27.

Forecasters expect the precipitation to be light. And if it is less than anticipated, the impacts may be minimal, Bishop said.

The return of winter is still nothing compared to what’s taking place in the eastern U.S. where record-breaking cold will continue this weekend.

But while the precipitation may make Monday morning’s commute to work difficult, it will do little to ease the drought across North Texas. Most of the Dallas-Fort Worth area and counties to the west and north remain in exceptional drought, the most serious category.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

Snow and ice in North Texas

Winter weather events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the past five years:

March 2, 2014: A sleet storm covered North Texas in ice, forcing the cancellation of 300 flights at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. It also played a role in an Arlington traffic fatality.

Dec. 5-10 2013: The worst ice storm in years spawned two new terms: Icemaggedon and cobblestone ice. It started when freezing rain, sleet, and a little snow began falling during the afternoon of Dec. 5, and continued into Dec. 6. By morning, the Metroplex was in a deep freeze that shut down the entire region.

The cold temperatures made things even worse. The constant melting and refreezing, combined with the pounding from truck tires, turned the frozen stuff into something called cobblestone ice, making many highways impassable. Hundreds of cars and trucks were stranded, many on Interstate 35W from Fort Worth to the Oklahoma border and on Interstate 20 from Fort Worth to the west.

Dec. 25, 2012: A strong upper-level system and cold front generated hail-producing thunderstorms and then a wintry mix of snow and sleet that complicated travel. Four to 6 inches of snow fell in Denton, Parker and Collin counties.

Feb. 1-4, 2011: The world watched this one as two potent winter storms put an icy blanket on Super Bowl festivities. Rain then sleet, snow and ice were capped with howling winds and temperatures in the teens. From 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches of ice and sleet were recorded. Temperatures stayed below freezing for 100 hours.

March 20-21, 2010: A strong and frigid storm system dropped heavy snow north of Interstate 20, dumping 5 to 9 inches across Collin County.

Feb. 23, 2010: Rain turned to snow with an average of 2 to 5 inches falling in southern areas of North Texas.

Feb. 11-12, 2010: A record-breaking snow buried North Texas with 14.4 inches in Haslet and 12.5 inches at DFW Airport in 24 hours. The heavy snow resulted in widespread power outages. Clean up from tree damage lasted for weeks.

Source: Star-Telegram archives and the National Weather Service.

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