Winter Storm Arrives; Ice and Sleet Flood Roads

Widespread power outages remain a possibility

Get out some extra blankets: A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for all of North Texas until 6 p.m. Friday, with sleet, freezing rain and ice accumulation expected.

After a high near 80 on Wednesday, temperatures turned much colder Thursday with temperatures falling into the 30s. After temperatures fall below freezing Thursday, they are not expected to climb above that mark until Sunday. Once the precipitation begins to fall, it will turn to ice, making driving incredibly dangerous and widespread power outages a very real possibility.

With the treacherous forecast ahead, several area school districts and city planners canceled school and holiday events ahead of the storm.  Get the latest updates on each at the links below.

NBC 5 Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock said light icing began to form Thursday afternoon and will continue to spread across the Metroplex throughout the evening.  Finfrock said the worst icing will likely occur between 10 p.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday, where up to one-half inch of ice is expected to accumulate.

The wintry mix will begin to taper off around 9 a.m. Friday, though a second round of icing will be possible Saturday night into Sunday.  Temperatures next week are expected to be even colder when they drop into the teens at night.

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Transportation Updates

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, American Airlines had proactively canceled more than 500 flights through 11 a.m. Friday.  At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, airlines have cancelled about 160 flights Thursday. There have been no reported cancellations at Dallas Love Field. Officials with both airports said they have crews ready to de-ice aircraft, treat runways and to assist stranded passengers.

Officials with The Texas Department of Transportation began pretreating roads in Denton, Collin and Dallas counties early Thursday afternoon.

Officials with both DART and The T expect to have normal service on Friday and Saturday, though passengers should expect some slight delays.

DART stated that trains will operate through Thursday night to help keep overhead power lines and switches clear. Most of the rail platforms have been treated and DART will continue to re-treat as needed.  DART advised customers to check the website for updates as some customers can expectt disruptions on bus and rail through the night and morning due to local conditions.

Oncor, TNMP Prepare for Widespread Outages

Both Oncor Electric Delivery and Texas-New Mexico Power, which services part of DFW, Lewisville and Waco, said they will be prepared to respond should ice from freezing rain weigh down branches and limbs on trees and crash through power lines.

"It's hard to say for sure. Every outage is different, especially where we might have freezing rain," said Kris Spears with Oncor. "That doesn't necessarily mean that your power will go out."

Friday morning, the Oncor StormCenter showed more than 125,000 customers without power across North Texas at 4:45 a.m.

Oncor advises residents to have an emergency kit with flashlights and batteries and a plan to stay with friends or family that do have electricity in the event there is a widespread outage.

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Meanwhile, at a facility in Lancaster, crews prepared backup transformers should bad weather cause mass outages.

Oncor said customers can report and monitor outages at  Additionally, phone and power outages can be reported to Oncor by texting the word OUT to 66267 (ONCOR).

Gov. Perry Activates Texas National Guard

Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued an emergency proclamation ahead of the severe winter storm on Thursday.  On Wednesday, he activated the Texas Military Forces to get into position ahead of the storm. The Texas Department of Public Safety discourages non-essential travel in affected areas.

“As this winter storm makes its way across the state, I urge all those in the affected communities to closely monitor the storm and prepare for dangerous weather conditions,” Perry said. “We will continue to take the necessary actions to make state resources available to assist affected areas.”

State resources currently responding include:

  • 54 Texas Military Forces personnel and 20 supporting vehicles prepositioned in Wichita Falls and Sherman to assist with rescuing stranded motorists.
  • Texas Department of Transportation officials to treat roadways in affected areas. Regional offices are monitoring the situation and remain ready to provide additional assistance as necessary. 
  • The Public Utility Commission to monitor power outages due to ice and coordinate any necessary response with utility companies. 

Texans may call 2-1-1 for winter weather related resources, such as information regarding Warming Centers where individuals may seek daytime shelter from the cold. Relay services and cell phone users who have out-of-state area codes can access 2-1-1 in Texas by dialing 1-877-541-7905.

Elsewhere in Texas

The National Weather Service forecasts up to 5 inches of snow accumulation Thursday and Friday in the Texas Panhandle and up to 4 inches of snow in the South Plains.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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