DALLAS (AP) — As snow and freezing rain blanketed normally
sun-swept North Texas, residents accustomed to warmer temperatures
appeared to heed warnings on what one hardware store manager called "Ice
Friday," staying off nearly impassable roadways and out of the
Earlier this week, many in Texas were basking in spring-like temperatures
that hit the 80s. But by Thursday, Texas was facing the same wintry blast
that has slammed much of the U.S., bringing frigid temperatures, ice and
Freezing rain started to pelt highways and power lines Thursday evening,
leaving a quarter-million customers without electricity Friday morning.
Schools canceled classes a day before, many businesses gave workers the
day off, and frigid roads and sidewalks were mostly empty. Organizers of
Sunday's Dallas Marathon canceled the event early Friday afternoon.
Bundled up against the elements, Matthew Johnson was one of the few people
braving the cold Friday.
"We're going to walk the dog and have fun outside, I guess," said Johnson,
standing near his home in the Dallas suburb of Richardson.
Agencies and residents here are still haunted by the fiasco of a frozen
Super Bowl week two years ago, when an inadequate response to a winter
storm crippled the region and left visitors stranded on impassable
This time, all of North Texas mobilized before an expected half-inch of
freezing rain began to come down. Temperatures are forecast to stay below
freezing after the rain passes, meaning residents will have to contend
with icy roads through the weekend.
One Home Depot in Dallas was running out of firewood and ice melt a day
"It's almost like a Black Friday," said store manager James McGilberry,
"but I guess we'll call it an Ice Friday."
Road crews were continuously dumping sand on largely empty highways, and
utility company Oncor reported 250,000 customers were without power in the
Dallas area, where temperatures had fallen into the 20s and some places
saw light snow.
The weather forced more than 1,000 cancelations at Dallas-Fort Worth
International Airport, one of the nation's busiest airports and a key hub
for Fort Worth-based American Airlines. Many travelers were stuck waiting
and hoping for another flight to take them to their destination. Those
arriving in North Texas were having trouble finding cabs as many drivers
stayed home. Dallas-area light rail trains were not running.
"I don't let things like this stop me," said Dayo Bankale, a taxi driver
at the airport Friday. "I'm not scared."
Rosibel Gutierrez Artavia, shivering in a light sweater as she waited for
a taxi, had traveled from Alajuela, Costa Rica, to suburban Fort Worth to
see family. Relatives called her before she left Costa Rica to warn her to
pack warm. But she got the call when she was already at the airport.
"I did not come prepared with snow clothes," Artavia said in Spanish.
But she was still thankful that the weather didn't prevent her from
boarding a flight that got her from Houston to North Texas and close to
"I prayed to God and He listened to me," she said.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm and ice warnings through
much of Friday for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi,
Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. Some parts of the Midwest
expected to see several inches of snow. The storm stretched from South
Texas, where anxious residents bagged outdoor plants to protect them from
the cold, up into northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
Cold weather has already dumped 1 to 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota
and Wisconsin and draped many communities in skin-stinging cold. The
temperature in parts of North Dakota on Thursday was a few degrees below
zero, but wind chill pushed it to nearly 40 below.
In West Texas, many truckers had already pulled off Interstate 27 on
Thursday, said Leilani Pierce, a manager at a Flying J Travel Plaza in
Students at Oklahoma State University were evicted by school officials
from a makeshift tent community they set up ahead of Saturday's rivalry
football game against the University of Oklahoma. Debbie McCarthy, the
university's athletics coordinator of special events, told the Tulsa World
that officials were worried about propane heaters starting a fire.
The city of St. Louis opened its first cold-weather shelter of the season
and warned residents to dress in layers inside and outside if need be.
A winter storm system swept through the Plains Thursday and dumped 1 to 2
feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It forced cancellations
in places far more accustomed to snow: Officials in Rapid City, S.D., said
the weather was too cold for ice skating, and temperatures in Montana and
Idaho fell below minus 25 degrees.