Wednesday, July 6, 2022 Jul 6, 2022
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Local News

The Great Thaw Has Settled In; Temps Will Hit 40 Today

The precipitation is officially east of North Texas, but there is still potential for roads to refreeze overnight. It’ll still be quite cold out there.
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Winter in Deep Ellum, on Commerce Street. Taken on February 14, 2021. Denise Connelly

The words below are now historical record. We made it through. It’s still bitterly cold as of Friday morning and we had a hard freeze overnight, but the mist and drizzle and gross ice has mostly vanished. By the afternoon, you’ll be able to bask in a sunny day in the 40s. There’s a good chance you’ll see rain on and off on Saturday, but nothing that would impede traffic.

Most school districts are beginning at 10 a.m. today, just to be safe. DART’s light rail, for whatever reason, will remain down today. Buses are on a Sunday schedule.


Story from 2/24 at 5:13 p.m.:

The Winter Storm Warning that blanketed Dallas-Fort Worth has left town along with the precipitation. Temperatures are still below freezing and will remain around that until Friday afternoon. But the worst of the weather has passed.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area spent the last two nights in the 20s, with wind chill in the teens. The freezing drizzle that became a freezing mist has moved east of the metro area, but the roads still haven’t had much time to thaw. North Texas thoroughfares first got dicy Wednesday afternoon, and the Texas Department of Transportation still asks North Texans to proceed with caution. Expect to encounter somewhere between a tenth or a fifth of an inch of ice on a surface during your commute.

WFAA’s road condition map still shows a lot of chaos on the roads Thursday evening, and the potential refreezing means you should stay home if you can.

Frozen roads remain the biggest safety threat. Hail and wind reports mostly stayed north of Dallas, largely concentrated in Denton and Collin counties.

Like this month’s previous freeze, the largest risk for power outages was localized: trees ice and fall on power lines, power lines freeze and are so weighed down they collapse. Temperatures will creep above freezing Friday afternoon and the ice on the roads will start to melt.

Highs will be in the 40s, giving the roads time to improve again. The bad news: lows are still in the 20s and 30s, both Friday and Saturday, so any water left on the roads has the potential to refreeze. But it won’t be nearly as treacherous as it was Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Now, let’s talk about the power grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a market notice Wednesday afternoon that it anticipated “tight grid conditions” beginning at midnight Thursday. That meant ERCOT, which manages the state’s electric grid, was nervous that demand will get really close to the grid’s total energy supply.

It looks like the grid made it through the night with plenty of supply, but ERCOT allowed for scarcity pricing—increasing the cost to buy a megawatt hour of energy to motivate generators to produce more. ERCOT also asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to temporarily lift its air quality limits on generators, to allow them to go beyond the amount of emissions their permits allow.

At 1:15 a.m. Thursday, the price per megawatt hour reached about $100. It peaked at 9:15 a.m., when that same amount of energy was going for $4,030. You’ll recall during the 2021 freeze that ERCOT allowed the cost of energy to stay at the $9,000 cap for about 77 straight hours, resulting in billions of dollars of overcharges. This isn’t that: prices dropped rather rapidly, and, by 5 p.m. Thursday, were back to about $35 per megawatt hour. That’s still a little above the $22 average from 2020, but not by much. Conditions are much improved.

Part of the reason the grid cruised during the first freeze this month was because wind over-produced. Turbines in West Texas didn’t freeze. ERCOT’s wind and solar chart showed that wind generation fell all Wednesday and was even worse overnight, which may have warranted the price hikes.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, wind was generating about a third of the energy it was producing early that morning. It declined even more overnight, right as demand increased.

Solar production kicked into gear around 9 a.m. Thursday and increased through the afternoon, right in time for wind to pick back up.

Now let’s get to the cancellations and delays:

Early Voting

Many polling locations are either delayed or shuttered today because of the road conditions. Dallas County is maintaining a spreadsheet to help you out. Early voting ends on Friday and Election Day is March 1.

Public Transit

Dallas Area Rapid Transit has suspended rail through Friday and will operate 14 shuttle bus routes between them. These will run every 45 minutes. DART’s bus routes will continue to operate on a Sunday schedule. Keep in mind, DART shut down bus operations two days into the freeze earlier this month, so that’s possible. Much depends on how tonight progresses.

The Trinity Railway Express is operating on a Saturday schedule.

The Oak Cliff Streetcar is out of commission through Friday, but a shuttle bus will ferry passengers from North Oak Cliff to Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station.

More on DART’s website.

The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority will continue operations on Thursday, but with two cars instead of three or four. The trolley won’t run after 8 p.m. on Wednesday, two hours earlier than normal. It plans to resume operations at 7 a.m. on Thursday with the same reduced service. The organization will continue to monitor the weather as it progresses.

Schools

Sorry kids. (And parents.) It looks like most school districts in the area are open on Friday, albeit with delays. WFAA is maintaining a list here.

City Services

Nonprofit provider OurCalling needs volunteers to help stand up warming centers and serve Dallasites who are without shelter. Find out how to help here; volunteer shifts are available for the duration of the storm. The city is also operating its libraries as warming shelters. More on that here.

If your trash and recycling gets picked up on a Thursday or Friday, expect delays. City Manager T.C. Broadnax says the sanitation department is keeping a close eye on road conditions, which are expected to be particularly difficult to get around on Thursday and Friday mornings.

Flight Cancellations

According to FlightAware, 835 flights had been canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Dallas-Love Field has seen only 96 cancellations. These numbers will surely increase, so follow up with your airline or FlightAware.

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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