Thanksgiving travel alert: Icy storm moving east

More than ten inches of snow is on the ground in parts of southwestern Oklahoma, as an icy storm that began in the West moves eastward in the run-up to Thanksgiving.


A winter weather warning is in effect for southwestern Arkansas. Forecasters say the area should get the worst of the storm through this afternoon.

Parts of Texas have also been getting a mix of sleet and freezing rain. Around dawn today in Dallas, temperatures edged above freezing, but rain continued to make roads dangerous. Nearly 300 American Airlines and American Eagle flights were canceled today in and out of Dallas due to the weather. There were similar disruptions yesterday.

Forecasters expect the Arctic mass to head south and east over the next couple of days, threatening plans for pre-Thanksgiving travel.

( Check the status of departure and arrival flights from Tampa International here: http://tampaairport.com/flights/ )

The weather has been blamed in at least 10 deaths in traffic accidents.

More than 300 flights were canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, representing about one-third of the scheduled departures, and a spokeswoman said deicing equipment had been prepared as officials planned for the worst in a flurry of conference calls and meetings.
 
"It's certainly going to be a travel impact as we see the first few people making their way for Thanksgiving," weather service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw said.
 
With most of the precipitation expected to occur during the overnight hours Sunday into Monday, Fano stressed the need for motorists to be cautious on the roads, especially as they head to work during the morning rush.
 
"If nothing else, roads are going to be wet and it's going to be cold, so caution definitely is advised in traveling," he said.
 
A mix of rain and sleet began falling north of Dallas on Interstate 35 by midday Sunday. Some elevated overpasses had icy surfaces.
 
Parts of Oklahoma have been under a winter storm warning, while other areas of the state have been under an advisory.
 
Some communities in southwestern Oklahoma woke up to snow Sunday, including Altus, where several inches fell. "It looks great. I love the snow," said Damaris Machabo, a receptionist at a Holiday Inn motel.
 
The snow and freezing temperatures made driving in the area treacherous, but Machabo said she had no problems getting to work early Sunday. Forecasts called for more snow in the area later in the day.
 
Portions of New Mexico — especially in some of the higher elevations — also had several inches of snow, and near white-out conditions were reported along stretches of Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque.
 
Then along the New Mexico-Texas border, into the El Paso area, a mix of snow, sleet and ice forced some road closures and created messy driving conditions.
 
Flagstaff in Arizona had 11 inches of snow by early Sunday, and was expected to get another inch by the end of the day before the storm petered out. Metro Phoenix and other parts of central Arizona received between 1½ to 2½ inches of rain over the course of the storm. The storms caused cancellations of sporting events and parades and damaged the roofs of homes across Arizona.
 
In Tucson, firefighters on Friday recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high water in the Santa Cruz River. Tucson police said Sunday an autopsy revealed signs of trauma, and they were investigating the death as a homicide. They did not say whether they had ruled out the storm as a cause of his death.
 
By early Sunday, the weather was blamed for at least eight deaths in several fatal traffic accidents. The storm also caused hundreds of rollover accidents, including one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson's band when their bus hit a pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas.
 
Dallas prepared for the storm by declaring "Ice Force Level 1," which is code for sending 30 sanding trucks to troubleshoot hazardous road conditions.
 
At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, spokeswoman Cynthia Vega said most of the canceled flights were in the afternoon and evening hours and were with American Airlines and American Eagle. The possibility of ice on the runways led to a series of conference calls and meetings early Sunday, she added, noting the airport had liquid and solid deicers ready for use.
 
The storm system, though, was particularly hard to predict because a couple of degrees here or there with the temperature will determine whether regions see rain, sleet or snow, Bradshaw said.
 
"It's very difficult to pin those down," he said. "It's slow moving and it's sort of bringing its energy out in pieces so it's kind of hard to time these as they come across with a great deal of accuracy."
 
___
 
Plushnick-Masti reported from Houston and can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP .
 
___
 
Associated Press writers John L. Mone in Dallas, Tim Talley in Oklahoma City and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed

to this report.
 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments