Travel Slowly Improves Days After Ice Storm

Some districts delaying, closing schools Tuesday

Travel slowly began to return to normal, on the roads and in the air, as temperatures rose slightly in North Texas Monday following an ice storm that forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, closed schools and cut electricity to thousands of homes and businesses.

NBC 5 Meteorologists said that while temperatures Monday will be above freezing for several hours, temperatures aren't expected to get into the 40s until Wednesday.

Thousands of students in North Texas whose classes were canceled Friday were out of school again at the start of the week because of lingering icy conditions. The Dallas and Fort Worth school districts, along with the University of North Texas in Denton and UT-Arlington, also canceled classes.

Power Outage Delays

Oncor, a Dallas-based electric utility, said about 6,000 homes and businesses were still without power Monday afternoon. Outages peaked at 270,000 at the height of the storm Friday, after the area was pelted with an ice storm that resulted in ice-laden tree limbs falling and downing power lines.

North Texas Road Conditions

The Texas Department of Transportation said in a late Sunday statement that it had reopened all major highways in the areas hardest hit by the wintry weather. Many bridges remained icy and the agency urged drivers to use caution Monday as the National Weather Service forecast temperatures would be in the upper 30s, giving way to warmer conditions and sunny skies by Tuesday.

On Interstate 35 north of Dallas, where traffic has come to a standstill for hours at a time, TxDOT brought in graders with blades to break up thick ice.

The North Texas Tollway Authority reported Monday morning that crews remain at full strength and are focusing on the Dallas North Tollway, Sam Rayburn Tollway and President George Bush Turnpike as well as NTTA bridges, overpasses and interchanges.

Drivers traveling on the SRT toward Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport are being diverted just before the tollway ends because of icy conditions on Business state Highway 121, according to the NTTA.

Chopper 5 saw a massive backup in all lanes as drivers maneuvered bumpy patches of ice on an  overpass along the state Highway 121 at Coppell Road.

DART, The T Service

Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which had halted train service since Friday due to ice on the tracks, offered a combination of rail and bus services Monday morning. DART said in a statement that it tested tracks, power systems and vehicles Sunday before resuming service.

Airlines Closer to Resuming Normal Schedules

Officials at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport expect most airlines to resume normal flight schedules on Tuesday -- resulting in approximately 750 departures.  Only a few cancellations for Tuesday have been announced.

Airport officials said there were about 500 departures on Monday, about 60 percent of the normal number, and that they cleared and opened a sixth runway to traffic.  All runways, taxiways and roads are clear of ice and in good shape as of Monday afternoon.

On Monday, Fort Worth-based American Airlines and American Eagle canceled 700 flights system-wide, though most were in North Texas. The carriers on a typical day operate about 3,500 flights, said spokeswoman Dori Alvarez.

About 650 people were stranded Sunday night at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, said David Magana, an airport spokesman. About 2,000 travelers were stranded there on Saturday night, while Friday night about 4,000 travelers were stranded, he said. Four of the five regularly used runways were open Monday morning.

"It's signs of progress," Magana said.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines operated a normal schedule Monday at Love Field, the carrier said in a statement.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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