Big Freeze Cancels 1500 Flights in Texas, Drops 20 inches of snow on Oklahoma
5 inches of snow in Dallas! Big freeze hits South
Hundreds of flights canceled ahead of Super Bowl; Houston sees 200 crashes
The Associated Press, Feb. 6, 2011
DALLAS — North Texas got another blast of winter overnight Friday, with several inches of snow piling up on icy streets and sidewalks just two days before the Super Bowl.
In the Dallas area, 5 inches of snow had fallen by early morning and many roads were closed due to snow and ice.
An area that usually sees highs in the 50s has had subfreezing temperatures since Tuesday morning. And while warmer temperatures are on the way, snow and ice will still be on the ground Sunday.
Dallas was feeling the chill Friday with the mercury resting at about 20, forcing organizers of at least one celebrity-filled Super Bowl event to move their Saturday celebrations inside.
A winter storm warning was in effect Friday for Arlington, the Dallas suburb where the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will play Sunday in Cowboys Stadium. Forecasters expect a mostly sunny Sunday with highs in the 40s, but just in case the retractable roof of $1.3 billion stadium will be closed.
Houston saw icy roads that led to some 200 crashes by midmorning, including one death on Interstate 10, NBC affiliate KPRC-TV reported. Several freeways were closed down due to the ice, and could stay closed until Saturday.
Hundreds of flights were canceled just as tens of thousands of Super Bowl fans were trying to fly in for Sunday's game.
In Dallas, Love Field, home to Southwest Airlines, was closed for most of the morning Friday, and more than 600 flights were canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
American Airlines, the dominant carrier at Dallas-Fort Worth, said it was giving priority to flights from Chicago, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.
Sammy Sandu, a 32-year-old property developer from Kelowna, B.C., and his father made it to Dallas Thursday before the latest snowfall, but other members of their party weren't so lucky. Sandu's brother was still hoping to get in from Miami, while his friend essentially abandoned travel plans after an American Airlines flight from Vancouver was canceled.
Sandu had hoped to visit the JFK assassination site and attend several parties — he said his brother spent $1,500 on party tickets — but that all those plans were on hold.
"It looks like, 'Oh, no, I'm back in Canada,'" Sandu said. "It's just pouring down snow. Are we still at home, or have we left? We didn't drink that much last night, did we?"
Houston's airport saw nearly 900 flights canceled by midmorning.
In Houston, KPRC meteorologist Anthony Yanez warned the ice would be around for most of the day — and Saturday morning.
"The ice that's there now really is not going to move, it's not going to melt away, until a little after the lunchtime hour," he said. "And it's not going to melt away completely because temperatures in the afternoon won't climb enough."
"By 9 p.m., we're going to head back below freezing again," he added. "Tomorrow morning we'll see that ice again."
Most schools in the Houston and Dallas areas were closed Friday. The same was true in Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Austin, where even the 51,000-strong University of Texas shut down.
North Texas is still trying to recover from an ice storm on Tuesday — part of a massive system that brought tremendous snow and bone-chilling temperatures to a large swath of the country this week.
Neighboring Oklahoma, still recovering from up to 20 inches of snow earlier this week, meanwhile braced for yet more.
National Weather Service meteorologist Cheryl Sharp in Norman said snow began falling about 2:30 a.m. Friday and total accumulation could reach three to four inches in southeastern Oklahoma. Roads in the area are slick and yet more snow was forecast for Sunday.
Freezing rain and sleet also caused havoc further south, making roads across Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi slick and leading to at least five fatal traffic accidents.
Yesterday's winter mess
On Thursday, winter delivered several punishing blows.
In Oklahoma, a pickup truck jumped a guard rail on Interstate 44 near the town of Miami and fell into the Spring River. Three people died, and five were injured.
In Dayton, Ohio, a state highway patrol trooper and his wife were found dead in their home Thursday due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a portable heater.
Freezing temperatures led to school closures in parts of New Mexico when school buses wouldn't start and delayed the Phoenix Open golf tourney in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Officials in the Northeast had warned homeowners and businesses for days of the dangers of leaving snow piled up on rooftops. As the 2,100-mile-long storm cloaked the region in ice and added inches to the piles of snow already settled across the landscape, the predictions came true.
In Middletown, Conn., the entire third floor of a building failed, littering the street with bricks and snapping two trees. Acting Fire Marshal Al Santostefano said two workers fled when they heard a cracking sound.
"It's like a bomb scene," Santostefano said. "Thank God they left the building when they did."
A gas station canopy on New York's Long Island collapsed, as did an airplane hangar near Boston, damaging aircraft. Roof cave-ins also were reported in Rhode Island. The University of Connecticut closed its hockey rink as a precaution because of the amount of ice and snow on the roof. The school hoped to have it inspected and reopened in time for a game Saturday.
A barn roof collapsed Wednesday night at an upstate New York dairy farm, trapping an unknown number of cows inside.
The cost of snow clean-up has blasted holes in the budgets of many cities, states and counties, which were already struggling with the aftermath of the severe recession.
Some places in the Northeast that have gotten more snow so far this winter than they usually get the whole season are running out of places to put it. In Portland, Maine, the downtown snow-storage area was expected to reach capacity after this week's storm — the first time in three years that has happened.
Tens of millions of people stayed home Wednesday and Thursday. The hardy few Midwesterners who ventured out faced howling winds that turned snowflakes into face-stinging needles. Chicago's 20.2 inches of snow on Wednesday was the city's third-largest amount on record.
"This is probably the most snow I've seen in the last 34 years," joked 34-year-old Chicagoan Michael George. "I saw some people cross-country skiing on my way to the train.. It was pretty wild."
The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.