What to Know
A thin glazing of ice developed on elevated roadways around a large portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth area overnight
First responders urged drivers to use extreme caution during the morning commute
Expect hard freezes early next week; threat for wintry precipitation is diminishing
Widespread freezing mist and drizzle created a dangerous Thursday morning commute for drivers after a thin glazing of ice developed on many North Texas bridges and freeways.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Collin, Dallas, Denton, Hood, Tarrant, Johnson, Parker, Rockwall and Somervell counties due to the possibility of ice building on elevated surfaces such as bridges, overpasses and highway flyovers. The advisory expired at 12 p.m.
Temperatures dipped into the mid- to upper-20s by about 4 a.m. Thursday, with colder temperatures in areas to the northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Emergency officials around North Texas reported widespread traffic problems during the Thursday morning rush. Drivers should stay alert for possible slick spots on bridges and overpasses.
All westbound lanes of Interstate 30 in Fort Worth were closed at Camp Bowie Boulevard due to a crash — one of nearly 100 incidents Fort Worth firefighters responded to during the morning rush. I-30 was reopened at about 6:30 a.m.
MedStar EMS said that crews responded to nearly 50 crashes and a dozen rollover accidents since 5 a.m. Thursday.
Click here for more information on road closures and traffic problems.
There will be a warm-up Friday, but it won't last long. A strong north wind will send temperatures much lower on Saturday — and the the lows will stay at freezing or below for the next five days.
The cold air will continue to dive south during the day Sunday. With some moisture around, we will have a chance for some rain showers mixing with a few snowflakes before coming to an end Sunday afternoon.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings each have a high likelihood of a hard freeze with widespread temperatures in the lower to middle 20s.
If you've done some late winter planting, you'll want to be prepared to cover and protect those plants by the end of the weekend and first part of next week.
Additionally, the prolonged cold could affect some emerging wildflowers or blooming fruit trees.
Daniel Cunningham, with Texas A&M AgriLife's Water University, said temperatures in the 20s will definitely affect many of our already blooming fruit trees (decreasing production) and some of our less-adapted flowers and plants that have already woken up early for spring.
"We've had pretty good soil moisture, which helps many plants get through a freeze reducing damage. Covering young tender vegetables and herbaceous flowers with new growth with frost clothes, plastic, tarps or blankets can help but may not be practical for larger specimens like fruit trees" Cunningham said. "It's really hard to estimate what the damage to plants could be. The lowest temperature, how long it stays freezing, how fast the temperature drops as well as the amount of wind that accompanies the cold front can all effect which plants are bit back and which plants weather the front."
Cunningham recommended using a temporary cover to protect frost-sensitive plants. If those plants can be brought indoors, or into the garage, even better.
"We can also take advantage of micro-climates in our landscapes by planting any mildly tender plants on the south side of our homes (closer to the home) from the beginning. These spots always stay a little warmer because they are protected from the north winds," Cunningham said. "Brick homes can radiate a little heat on the southern exposure, and of course our heaters are running at that time which can contribute to the warmer micro-climate."
Cunningham added the best line of defense is planting either tough native Texas plants or adapted plants throughout the landscape. Most, he said, will bounce back from cold weather just fine. For more frost-sensitive "project plants," Cunningham recommended planting them in a container to make relocating them and protecting them from freezes much easier.