Last Updated, 1/31, 6 p.m.
A wave of sleet and freezing rain moved in Tuesday morning in less than an hour, coating North Texas in ice. The National Weather Service warns that these conditions will continue, and the agency extended its winter storm warning for the area through Thursday morning.
The warning was originally expected to last through Wednesday morning, but the NWS says cooler temperatures make it unlikely that all this precipitation will be off the roads by then. The warning has been extended through 6 a.m. Thursday, and the agency warns that roads will “become impassable” on Tuesday.
Dallas-Fort Worth set a new daily snowfall record of 1.3 inches (so far) Tuesday, the NWS said. Sleet on the ground is measured as snowfall. The old record was 1.2 inches, and dates back to 1985. Tuesday afternoon, the NWS issued an Ice Storm Warning for North Texas counties west of I-35W, including Tarrant and Denton counties, warning that these areas could see half an inch of ice accumulation between Wednesday afternoon and early Thursday.
“Travel conditions will continue to worsen as additional sleet and freezing rain deteriorates roads areawide. Travel should be avoided if possible now through Wednesday,” the agency said. “Stay home! If you have to be out on the roads over the next couple of days, make sure to slow down, watch for ice/black ice, and to give yourself plenty of time for driving.”
During a brief lull in the sleet and freezing rain on Monday night, Texas Department of Transportation crews were out treating roadways. They will remain on 24-hour shifts throughout the worst of the driving conditions, the department said.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit is treating bus and train station parking lots and walkways and has opened warming shelters at 11 transit centers and stations through 10 p.m. Those are below:
- Addison Transit Center
- CBD East Transfer Center
- CBD West Transfer Center
- Cockrell Hill Transfer Location
- Downtown Garland Station
- Downtown Irving/Heritage Crossing Station
- Illinois Station
- J.B. Jackson Jr. Transit Center/MLK Jr. Station
- Ledbetter Station
- Parker Road Station
- South Garland Transit Center
Around 7:30 a.m., “thunder sleet” poured down upon Dallas, and it continued through the morning. By 9 a.m., the area was blanketed in a coating of ice and slush, with the NWS predicting that sleet accumulations would average about a quarter of an inch, but could top out at as much as one inch. With temperatures not expected to exceed freezing Wednesday, it is all but guaranteed that roads will become even more treacherous as the day moves on.
More freezing rain and sleet is likely through Tuesday evening, followed by freezing rain after midnight. Wednesday’s forecast so far includes freezing rain in the morning, afternoon, and evening, with a slight chance of more of the same after midnight.
The NWS predicted that Dallas County could pick up about a quarter-inch of ice Wednesday.
School districts have also started announcing Wednesday closures. So far, Cedar Hill ISD, Dallas ISD, DeSoto ISD, Garland ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Highland Park ISD, Irving ISD, Kaufman ISD, Keller ISD, Lancaster ISD, Mesquite ISD, Richardson ISD, Rockwall ISD, and Sunnyvale ISD have announced closures.
The city of Dallas canceled all city-sponsored activities, including Wednesday’s City Council briefing. Municipal court dockets are also canceled Tuesday and Wednesday. City sanitation services have also been canceled. Dallas County offices, including the county health department, will also be closed Wednesday.
According to FlightAware, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field have canceled between 50 and 60 percent of their flights. The Federal Aviation Administration said it issued a ground stop for American Airlines flights at DFW-International at the airline’s request Tuesday. The agency also temporarily issued one for Dallas Love Field Tuesday morning, but lifted it later.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s supply and demand dashboard indicates that the grid is easily keeping up with demand. Oncor’s outage map indicated at 3 p.m. that about 28 outages in Dallas County have been reported, which impacts about 2,200 customers. Shortly before 6 p.m., that number had dropped to 14 outages. Tarrant County had 12 outages and Collin County showed three. Any outages are likely because of downed power lines from ice accumulation and falling tree branches, officials said.
The city of Dallas’ inclement weather stations are open, including the one on Hickory Street operated by Austin Street Shelter and OurCalling. The Salvation Army said its warming stations in North Texas are also open.