An Arctic cold front that blew into North Texas Tuesday is here to stay for a few days.
While the ice is certainly something for drivers to be concerned about, the continuing cold poses a real and hazardous threat.
The forecast for Tuesday night has been changed to a low of 8 degrees with a wind chill of anywhere from 0 to -10 degrees. Anyone venturing out into the cold would be wise to carry extra provisions, such as a blanket and a mobile phone, in case they are stranded.
The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Advisory through 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Tuesday's storm left thousands without power, briefly closed Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field and suspended DART rail service.
By 8 a.m., more than 800 schools and businesses reported closings or delays (see the list of school and business closings) and many districts have already canceled classes for Wednesday.
Icy roads play havoc with commuters
Not everyone was able to stay home, despite the number of closures Tuesday.
Dallas police said it appeared the drive home was worse than the morning commute. Officers in Dallas responded to 56 minor crashes and 26 major crashes between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Earlier, crashes were reported all over North Texas on Tuesday morning, including an incident involving an EMS vehicle in west Arlington and a string of 15 jack-knifed big rigs along the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 35E near Pleasant Run Road south of Interstate 20. That crash closed the highway for several hours while crews cleared the scene and treated the roadway.
Chopper 5 was high above both crashes, the latter of which resembled a scene from a disaster movie. More than a dozen trucks were contorted in various positions up and down the interstate. The conditions of those involved in the crashes were not immediately known.
In Fort Worth, Good Samaritans helped drivers on North Beach Street.
In Denton, police warned drivers to be cautious on side streets because a solid layer of ice was underneath the snow.
Drivers across North Texas are advised to use extreme caution on bridges, overpasses and everywhere in between. With temperatures not expected to rise above 20 degrees for the next 48 to 72 hours, road conditions will be slow to improve. At this point, driving should be considered hazardous.
DFW reopens after closing; Love Field shuts down
At last check, American Airlines canceled about 800 flights at DFW Tuesday and another 600 system-wide, according to airline spokesman Tim Smith.
DFW closed for about two and a half hours Tuesday morning so crews could treat runways and roadways that were glazed over. The airport reopened at about 8:30 a.m. The airport said airlines canceled more than 600 departures at DFW because of weather impacting air traffic in 30 states.
Just before 4 p.m., the FAA said the airport was experiencing departure delays of up to an hour because of ice on a runway.
Airport spokesman David Magana said the roads at DFW Airport are slick and slushy but passable. The flyover bridges to Terminals D and E are open, but drivers heading for Terminals A, B and C are being detoured to alternate routes.
Magana said that the cancellations were because of the situation at DFW as well as in the Midwest and the Northeast. The massive winter store is affecting air traffic in 30 states, he said. Magana said DFW airlines are reporting 600 departure cancellations so far Tuesday, out of the approximately 850 scheduled each day, because of the weather.
DFW is advising all passengers to check their flight status on www.dfwairport.com for the latest on the status of their flights prior to driving to the Airport.
At Dallas' Love Field, the airport was shut down just before 9 a.m. Southwest Airlines, Delta and Continental canceled all flights at Love for the day on word that the runways would not be completely cleared. About 125 flights were canceled by Southwest alone.
Just before 4 p.m., Love Field reopened one runway to arriving general aviation flights.
DART suspends rail service, The T warns of delays
The winter weather began playing havoc with commuters before sunrise Tuesday.
DART said early on that all services were experiencing major delays because of the weather and that the speed of the storm was outpacing efforts to prevent ice buildup and restore service. DART suspended rail service for most of the day before resuming service at about 2 p.m.
"We are working to restore it, but the continuing precipitation and high winds are affecting our ability to do that," DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.
Trinity Railway Express riders had significant delays early Tuesday when only four of the normal six morning trains were running. In the afternoon, the TRE was back on schedule and will have an additional train on the tracks to help ferry traffic from Tuesday night's Dallas Stars game at the American Airlines Center.
The T in Fort Worth is operating, as is Molly the Trolley, but riders were advised to expect long waits as buses were significantly delayed.
Pedestrians are also cautioned to be very careful on sidewalks, at transit centers and anywhere slick spots may have formed on platforms, parking areas and sidewalks.
Thousands left without power due to winter storm
Oncor said that as of 7:15 a.m. there were 4,792 customers in the Dallas area without power and another 4,908 without power in Fort Worth. By 2:45 p.m., those numbers were reduced to 3,421 in Dallas and 2,731 in Fort Worth.
There is no ETA on when customers can expect service to be restored.
EMS suspends "lights and sirens" responses
Due to deteriorating road conditions, MedStar said it is temporarily suspending lights-and-sirens responses out of concern for crew and public safety.
Suzy Miller with MedStar said apprehensive drivers who see lights and sirens may become distracted, causing more crashes. Suspending lights and sirens is designed to curtail that.
Current 911 call volume is below average, but with poor road conditions that could change quickly. MedStar has called in additional staff to help with collisions, but they urge drivers to stay off of the roads.
Salvation Army opens more shelters for homeless
The Salvation Army will operate emergency shelters Tuesday night at its centers in Lewisville and Plano at the request of the local city government to house people needing shelter from the extreme cold.
The provisional shelters will be located at 207 Elm Street in Lewisville and 3528 E. 14th Street in Plano. The full-time shelters on Harry Hines in Dallas, Lancaster in Fort Worth are all at capacity.
The shelter at McKinney Street in Denton had room for only eight more people at the time of this writing.
NBCDFW's Omar Villafranca, Shane Allen, Grant Johnston and Jennifer Lopez contributed to this report.
- Good Samaritans Help Fort Worth Drivers Avoid Ice
- Side Streets Remain Dangerous in Denton
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