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Five Guys Get Stuck In A Truck On An Icy Highway

An icy rain fell on North Texas Sunday, and scores of school districts were closed Monday. Scores of motorists were stuck on icy highways to the east and south of Dallas. It will warm up Tuesday and get warmer through the week. Here's the latest from the KERA Weather Blog.

Update, 9:58 p.m. Monday: For several hours Monday, employees with Bravado Spice Co. were stuck in a large pickup truck on Interstate 45 near Corsicana, about an hour south of Dallas. The cars weren’t moving, but the tweets were flowing fast and furious. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao caught up with one truckload of guys spending their seventh hour stuck on the highway.

James Nelson, Jeremiah Tallerine, Ryan Harcourt, Vince Blasco and Spencer (who declined to give his other name) left New Mexico around 5 p.m. Sunday. At first, they had a grand time, singing songs and eating snacks. Then they drove through Texas and the snow started to fall. They approached Corsicana about 5 a.m. Monday. Then they stopped. On the highway. For hours. How does Nelson describe it? “Icy hellstorm."

Traffic on Interstate 45 was at a standstill with vehicles backed up for 15 miles or more. There were reports of some motorists being stuck since Sunday night. Blame the traffic nightmare on 18-wheelers that were stuck on the highways. It would take hours to get those trucks moving again.

Motorists were mad. Very mad. The five guys in the truck saw people urinating outside. They saw motorists throw trash from their cars. They saw some drivers try to escape the highway, only to get stuck.

They ran out of food. They hadn't eaten for hours. They were trying to avoid cannibalism, they joked. They spit out angry tweets.

By late Monday afternoon, there was good news. Nelson and his colleagues -- we'll call them the Spice Boys -- finally got out of the traffic jam. (Click above to hear the KERA radio story.)

Update, 6:22 p.m. Monday: Another winter storm system is approaching Texas -- but it won't hit North Texas. Instead, it will hit Central Texas tonight and Tuesday morning, including Waco and Temple. Austin and San Antonio are also in the storm's path. Up to a quarter-inch of sleet is possible in Temple, while about one-tenth of sleet is possible in Waco.

Dallas-Fort Worth will escape the blast, but it's still going to be quite cold tonight. We'll stay below freezing, with lows in the 20s across the region. It will finally warm up Tuesday, in the mid-40s in Dallas-Fort Worth. There's a slight chance of showers on Wednesday, with highs in the mid-50s. As the week rolls along, we'll warm up: We should hit 60 degrees Thursday and 70 degrees Friday.

Update, 3:20 p.m. Monday: File this under "Strange, but true." The National Weather Service reported about something odd that happened this morning: "Quite a rare weather occurrence for North Texas going on. ... The cold air traveling over the warm lake waters is causing clouds and even some snow flurries to develop downstream of the lakes. These clouds form in the same process that steam forms when cold air moves over warm water. You can see them on the satellite as the long whitish streaks downwind from the lakes and parallel to the surface wind."

Update, 3:14 p.m. Monday: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the operator of the electric transmission grid for most of Texas, is asking electric consumers to continue limiting their electric use as much as possible today and through 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“We were able to maintain grid reliability without an energy emergency this morning, and we appreciate this help from consumers,” Dan Woodfin, ERCOT's director of system operations, said in a news release. “With the continued cold weather, we expect conditions to remain tight, especially during the early evening tonight and early morning hours tomorrow.”

ERCOT issued a conservation alert Sunday night to try to limit electric use Monday morning, when peak demand reached 54,549 megawatts. All available generation was being used, ERCOT reports. High demand due to the cold temperatures and windy conditions is expected to continue through at least Tuesday morning, while generation supplies remain limited.

Update, 12:26 p.m. Monday: Employees with Bravado Spice Co. are stuck in a large pickup truck on Interstate 45 near Corsicana. James Nelson, Jeremiah Tallerine, Ryan Harcourt, Vince Blasco and Spencer are hanging out. They told KERA that they left New Mexico around 5 p.m. Sunday and drove through Texas and got close to Corsicana about 5 a.m. How does Nelson describe it? “Icy hellstorm." Traffic on Interstate 45 was at a standstill with vehicles backed up at 15 miles or more. There were reports of some motorists being stuck since Sunday night, The Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, east of Dallas, on eastbound Interstate 30, traffic is backed up between Greenville and Sulphur Springs -- and it's congested for at least six miles, WFAA-TV is reporting. That includes several semis.

The Texas Department of Transportation's road conditions website shows very slow traffic for several miles on Interstate 45 south of Corsicana. Traffic seems to get better around Streetman and Fairfield.

TxDOT's map also shows slow traffic between Greenville and Sulphur Springs and again east of Sulphur Springs as you approach Mount Vernon.

Update, 11:28 a.m. Monday: The city of Plano passes along an update on its roads. The public works department has dispatched four trucks that are spreading a mix of sand and salt. It appears northern and western Plano have received more ice. Plano police report 64 calls related to traffic accidents.

Update, 11:22 a.m. Monday: The city of Dallas says its sanding operations are being adjusted to focus on areas with "prevalent and persistent icing." Conditions have improved through the morning to get the worst routes cleared. The majority of the city's streets experienced "very little to patchy icing" during the winter storm.  Also, courts and detention services will be in session this afternoon. All dockets will occur as planned, including: Off Docket, Proof or Plea, Pretrial, Lew Sterrett, City Detention Center and Community Court dockets.

Update, 11 a.m. Monday: Chieng Moua sent this photo from an accident on Sunday near the intersection of Interstates 635 and 35. "Crazy drivers," he says.

8:07 a.m. Monday: About 50 departing flights have been canceled at D/FW International Airport -- that compares to more than 300 departing flight cancelations on Sunday. Weather is also affecting flights on the East Coast, so check your flight status with your airline. 

8:05 a.m. Monday: Since midnight, Dallas police have responded to 16 minor accidents, nine accidents involving injuries and 14 accidents on highways involving injuries. 

8:04 a.m. Monday: The city of Dallas reports: "Jury Service and all of this morning's dockets have been canceled. Questions: Call 311 or 214-670-0109."

8:01 a.m. Monday: It's very cold out there -- 18 degrees in Dallas; 14 degrees in Denton; 12 degrees in Sherman; 9 degrees in Wichita Falls. Add in the wind chill and it feels like it's in the single digits in Dallas -- and it feels like it's below zero to the north. A wind chill advisory is in effect for much of North Texas until 10 a.m. If you have to go outside, bundle up -- and pack some food, water, blankets and other essentials in your car in case you get stuck on the roads.

7:55 a.m. Monday: It’s a cold, icy morning out there. Many roads are slick, especially in areas where sleet and freezing rain fell on Sunday. Many schools are canceled, including Dallas, Denton, Plano, Irving, Richardson and Arlington. Fort Worth ISD is operating on a two-hour delay.

“The good news is that sunshine and dry northerly winds will help to clear ice off the roads today despite air temperatures remaining below freezing,” the National Weather Service reports. Many roads covered with ice should be clear by late afternoon. But road conditions will be worse in areas east of Dallas-Fort Worth – in cities like Paris, Greenville and Canton – with ice possibly lingering on roads until Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking of Tuesday, another winter weather system is coming – but this time it will affect areas south of Dallas-Fort Worth. The system will arrive tonight and “will track primarily across Central Texas,” the weather service says. “Temperatures will be cold enough for ice to accumulate on bridges, overpasses, and some roads,” the weather service says. “Travel may become hazardous south of a Hamilton to Waco to Palestine line where winter weather advisories have been posted.”

Update, 11:18 p.m. Sunday: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the operator of the electric transmission grid for most of Texas, is asking electric consumers to limit their electric use as much as possible on Monday morning.

“The cold weather and accompanying wind that has spread across the region today is expected to result in high electric demand for tomorrow’s peak,” Dan Woodfin, ERCOT director of system operations, said in a news release.

To help reduce demand, ERCOT suggests customers keep thermostats as low as possible, preferably no higher than 68 degrees; turn off and unplug lights and appliances that aren't essential; and avoid running large appliances, such as washers, dryers and electric ovens.

Update, 11:17 p.m. Sunday: Earlier this evening, Dallas' Department of Street Services has escalated its sanding operations to Ice Force Level 2, which includes 56 trucks and about 125 employees due to the icy conditions on the bridges and overpasses and freezing temperatures.

Update, 10:39 p.m. Sunday: Fort Worth ISD will delay classes two hours on Monday.

Meanwhile, all colleges in the Dallas County Community College District will open at 11 a.m. on Monday.

Update, 10 p.m. Sunday: More schools have announced they'll be closed Monday due to icy road conditions and cold weather. Dallas, Plano, Richardson, Denton ISDs will be closed.

Update, 9:08 p.m. Sunday: The school closings and delays are rolling in … Dozens of North Texas school districts will either be closed or delayed Monday.

McKinney ISD is closed Monday. So is Allen ISD. Frisco schools are closed. Other schools that are closed include Waxahachie; Corsicana; Decatur.

Many of the districts that are closed or delayed are in outlying areas. Check with your local school district.

As of 9 p.m. Sunday, most major school districts had not announced closings. Dallas ISD announced on its Facebook page that it planned to be open Monday -- at least for now.

Update, 8:14 p.m. Sunday:  The winter storm warning has been canceled for North Texas. But we’ll be under a wind chill advisory starting at midnight through 8 a.m. Monday.

But roads may become slick as the precipitation that fell earlier today freezes.

Heaviest sleet accumulations have been reported across counties to the east of Dallas-Fort Worth, including Hopkins, Hunt, Van Zandt and Anderson counties, the National Weather Service reports. Up to 1 to 1.5 inches of sleet have fallen in some areas. In Van, a town in Van Zandt County, 2 inches of sleet was reported.

Expect a windy, cold night across North Texas. Overnight lows will be in the teens and low 20s, with wind chill readings in the single digits and below 0 in some places, the weather service reports. Expect strong winds with gusts up to 30 mph.

Update, 5:28 p.m. Sunday: This cold weather is sticking around. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a chance of snow and sleet before midnight across Dallas-Fort Worth. Expect lows in the low teens, and even colder to the north. Wind chills will make it feel like it’s in the single digits – and even below 0 in some areas. (Ouch.)

On Monday, we could escape freezing temperatures – but barely. Expect a high of 33 degrees in some parts of North Texas, although not everyone might get above freezing. Monday night will be a bit warmer than Sunday night – perhaps in the mid 20s.

Tuesday’s high will be nearly 50 degrees – that sure will feel nice after Sunday’s winter blast. (But not as nice as the 70s we experienced on Saturday.)

Update, 5:17 p.m. Sunday: As of 4 p.m., Dallas police have responded to 78 minor accidents, 53 accidents involving injuries and 50 freeway accidents involving injuries.

Update, 4:45 p.m. Sunday: We’re getting a little bit of everything weatherwise today in North Texas: rain, sleet, icy rain, thunder – and perhaps some lightning.

The wintry mix that’s falling across North Texas will end from west to east this evening, the National Weather Service says.

While the precipitation will end, it will be very cold – that means the precip that fell will create icy spots. So be careful out there.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 9 p.m. for North Texas – including Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton and Rockwall counties – as well as counties north along the Red River. Up to a quarter-inch of ice and an inch of sleet is possible.

To the south of Dallas-Fort Worth, freezing rain and sleet are possible – that means ice could accumulate on bridges and overpasses. Even in areas that only receive rain, that precipitation will freeze overnight.

A wind chill advisory is in effect starting at midnight for much of North Texas. The advisory ends at 8 a.m. Monday.

In other words: Prepare for a very cold night.

Update, 1:24 p.m. Sunday: Not a good day for a parade. The Mardi Gras Oak Cliff parade has been canceled. "Participating bands and floats had been dropping fast, and with the freezing rain/ sleet predicted to get worse, it is the safe thing for us to do," according to the Go Oak Cliff Facebook page.

Update, 1:10 p.m. Sunday: It was in the 70s yesterday in North Texas; now we're in the 20s. The National Weather Service reports a 70+-degree spread in Texas today -- 83 in the Rio Grande Valley, while it's in the single digits in the Texas panhandle.

Update, 1 p.m. Sunday: At D/FW International Airport, as of 1 p.m. Sunday, airlines have canceled 270 departing flights, or about 30 percent of today's flight schedule, the airport reports on Twitter. Airport crews have been treating the airfield, as well as roadways. "The airfield is in good condition with all available runways open."

Original post, Sunday morning: Temperatures are already below freezing. Precipitation will continue through the afternoon. Temperatures are colder than expected, so more sleet (rather than freezing rain) is expected. That means roadways could be more dangerous than had been originally anticipated.

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth says to expect a “potpourri” of weather conditions due to the latest arctic blast.

As always, it’ll depend on location, location, location.

Cold: Temperatures will drop into the 20s in counties north and west of Dallas-Fort Worth: This includes Denton and Collin counties, as well as Grayson and other counties along the Red River.  

Precipitation: A band of rain, freezing rain and sleet is moving across North Texas this morning. Across Dallas-Fort Worth, and Denton and Collin counties, up to one-tenth of an inch of ice and up to a quarter-inch of sleet are predicted. More is expected in northeast Texas, including Paris, Bonham and Greenville: up to a half-inch of sleet and up to two-tenths of an inch of ice are possible in those areas.

Road conditions: The weather service anticipates ice and sleet on bridges, overpasses and some roadways across counties that are north and west of Dallas-Fort Worth. This includes Denton and Collin counties. But ice is possible on bridges and overpasses in Dallas and Tarrant counties, too.

In Dallas: The Dallas' street services department will launch "Ice Force Level 1" at noon. That means 35 sanding trucks and 100 personnel will be out in force, monitoring bridges, overpasses and inclines.

We're not alone: North Texas isn't the only place feeling another blast of Ol' Man Winter. A big storm is making its way across the country, making many miserable.

Winter weather lingo: Brush up on wintry weather terms.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.