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With Warmer Weather, Snow Starts To Melt; Schools Prepare To Open Friday

Update, 5:06 p.m. Thursday: Schools are starting to announce they will be open Friday. Fort Worth ISD says it will be open tomorrow.

The district said in a statement: "The National Weather Service and the City of Fort Worth advise that any water remaining on roadways Thursday night into Friday morning will refreeze. For that reason everyone is advised to use caution on roadways. But conditions are expected to be much better than Thursday morning as city and state highway crews continue to work though the evening."

Update, 3:36 p.m. Thursday: Temperatures finally climbed above the freezing mark around midday for most of North Texas. We should get into the upper 30s this afternoon. That will help melt the snow.

That's the good news.

But here's the bad news: Temperatures will dip back into the low 20s tonight. The National Weather Service says slushy roadways that don't completely melt this afternoon will refreeze overnight. That could lead to icy roads in some areas Friday morning.

FYI: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport got 3.5 inches of snow. Most areas across Dallas-Fort Worth saw at least 3 inches, although some areas have seen more. (Unofficially, some areas reported 6 or 7 inches.) It's the most snow we've seen in five years. The National Weather Service says this is the fourth heaviest snowfall for March in Dallas-Fort Worth. (Way back on March 13, 1924, we got 6 inches of snow.)

Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bishop says we can say goodbye to winter for a while.

“It is going to get cold tonight, lows in the lower 20s again tonight," he told KERA. "And highs tomorrow I think will get into the 40s, the 50s on Saturday and maybe even into the 60s as we get into Sunday and Monday.” 

By then, this latest winter blast -- the snow, the ice, the sleet, the closed schools, the clogged roads, the stranded motorists -- will all seem like a distant memory.

Update, 3:22 p.m. Thursday: Lots of places have been shut down across North Texas today. But at least one big event is going on tonight as scheduled. The 2015 Cliburn Festival will open tonight. The five-concert festival, which showcases the work of Chopin, is at the Kimbell Art Museum's Piano Pavilion in Fort Worth. Organizers say in an email: "Ticketholders who are concerned about traveling under current road conditions can call the PAFW Box Office at 817-212-4280 for information regarding exchanges."

Update, 3:02 p.m. Thursday: As of mid-afternoon, Oncor was working to restore power to about 500 customers scattered throughout the four metro counties: Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant. It's a far better situation than December 2013, when a winter blast knocked power out to more than 265,000 customers.  Oncor’sKhristen Jones says this winter storm was different. "The December 2013 storm, we saw more than 73 hours of freezing temperatures in the Metroplex, which we haven’t seen this time," she said. "They’ve been much shorter events. The precipitation has had a chance to melt so it hasn’t weighed down the lines like it did before.” Jones says this time we got more snow than ice.

Update, 1:56 p.m. Thursday: DART says it has restored its rail service. But rail service will follow a weekend schedule today. Regular weekday service resumes Friday.

"DART Bus will continue to operate within Scenario 1 for the remainder of the day," DART says on its website. "This is normal Saturday schedules with limited service added on express routes 206, 208, 210, 221, 234, 278, 282, 283, and local routes 63, 362 and 509. However, their travel is affected by local road conditions, so customers should expect delays -- some of them significant -- and should dress warmly to wait for their bus."

Update, 1:55 p.m. Thursday: KERA's Doualy Xaykaothao has been talking with North Texans dealing with the snow. She sent along this dispatch:

In Grand Prairie, college student Raymond Diaz says he was happy to hear UT-Arlington canceled classes because he wanted to enjoy the snow.

“I don’t like it when people complain about how the snow ruins their day,” Diaz says. “Or they have cabin fever. They can’t do anything. Just get out there, just embrace it, have fun.”

Zach Sugg from Grand Prairie decided to go to work.

“As much as I’d love to stay home and make a snowman, I decided to come to work,” he said. “I work in development here in Dallas. And we can’t let a little snow stop our production. A lot of people don’t like the cold weather, and the icy rain and snow. But considering we spend so much time and triple digits, I think it’s nice to see a little snow on the ground.”

But ThavinaOunnarath has had a rough time with the snow because her car has been stuck in a ditch for four hours.

“The snow’s melting because the sun’s out, it’s shining really bright, but unfortunately I’m still stuck in this ditch,” she said. “I don’t know. I’m just praying tomorrow I’m able to get to work as normal.”

Update, 1:54 p.m. Thursday: KERA's Jerome Weeks visited Glencoe Park in Dallas and met up with a four-legged friend.

Melissa Rodriguez was walking her young pitbull mix.

“It’s been hard because he’s been cooped up in the house, so it’s been rough,” she said. “He’s been chewing up my shoes and cashing the cat more than he usually does. … He loved it. He was running around, acting like crazy. Dogs love the snow. He’s been chasing after it and eating it. He’s fascinated.”

Update, 1:53 p.m. Thursday: Do you wanna build a snowman?

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Six-year-old Doga Isik played in the snow in Plano at midday Thursday.

KERA’s Stella Chavez drove around Plano, and came across a family working on an important snow day project. Here's her report:

Building a snowman, or snow anything, isn’t that easy. In fact, it can be downright frustrating.

“Tell her about your snowman,” Ugurcan Isik told his daughter.

“No!!” said Doga, who’s 6.

Doga has been rolling and piling up the snow. But the snow isn’t cooperating. Doga yells.

All of the snow isn’t sticking. I ask her to tell me a little bit about her snowman and she quickly corrects me.

“I’m building an igloo!!” she said.

Doga and her father have seen snow before. Lots of it, in fact, in their native Turkey. They moved to Plano from Istanbul a year ago.

“In our country – three, four, five months, we always play with snow,” Isik said.

“So this is not too cold for you,” I asked him.

“It’s not too cold,” he said. “It’s perfect weather to play outside.”

Back at the snow pile, Doga’s still hard at work.

“Yay!! Grrrrr!!!” she said. “I think I’ll just build a motorcycle.”

In the end, she grabs a few twigs and a gray snow hat. It’s a snowman, or snow woman.

--Stella Chavez, KERA

Update, 1:52 p.m. Thursday: KERA's Dane Walters spent some time at Flag Pole Hill this morning and talked with folks having fun in the snow.

Ryan McWhorter brought his son, Luke, and a neighbor to Flag Pole Hill to try out the snow.

Earlier in the morning, they used a laundry bin – then they switched to innertubes.

“It’s just fluffy and nice and you’ve got that nice crunch to it,” he said. “It’s not salty and granular. … It’s just nice and soft and fun and fast to sled on.”

The sledding was much better in the snow than in previous storms, which have brought ice, McWhorter said.

“Usually it’s more ice storms, it’s ice so you can’t sled and have as much fun because it’s just a big sheet of ice,” he said. “This has been fun, good snow for the kids.” 

Nicholas Miller of Mesquite headed to Flag Pole Hill in Dallas Thursday morning. He’s a teacher, so he had the day off.

“I woke up this morning and saw it on the news and thought it would be the perfect place to come,” he said.

But first, Miller stopped by a Wal-Mart to buy three pool floats. He used them as a makeshift sled. Then he made a snow ramp. Then he went flying. 

Here's a slow-motion video by KERA's Dane Walters

Credit Dane Walters / KERA News
A family of snowmen at Flag Pole Hill in Dallas.

Update, 1:40 p.m. Thursday: DART says it's in the process of restoring rail service to all stations. "The process will take some time and bus shuttle connections may still be required from some stations," DART says. "DART Rail and Bus will operate on a modified schedule for the remainder of the day and return to regular weekday service for Friday."

Update, 10:14 a.m. Thursday: D/FW International Airport just reported that crews have cleared and opened two runways, giving the airport additional capacity to get flights out.

Airport officials advise motorists to be careful on the roads and to be mindful of possible detours within the airport. 

As of 10 a.m., driving conditions at D/FW were improving -- but they are slick and slushy.

"The flyover bridge exits to the Terminal A, B and C remain closed, meaning motorists will be detoured to the terminals using ground routes. Flyover bridge exits to Terminals D and E have now reopened," the airport says.

Nearly 400 departing flights have been canceled -- that represents about 35 percent of the day's schedule.

Between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 10 this morning, Fort Worth police have responded to 378 traffic calls, ranging from accidents to abandoned cars to stranded motorists.

Dallas officials say garbage and recycling pickup will start once the roads are safe. Pickups that don't happen today will take place Friday or Saturday. Also, all Dallas public libraries are closed today.

Road crews continue to fan out across North Texas to cover roads with salt, sand and brine. Trucks are plowing roads, trying to scrape the ice away. Dallas road officials report roads have better traction than last week, but that the roads are still dangerous.

Credit Greer Wilson-Chavez
A look at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas Thursday morning.

Update, 9:57 a.m. Thursday: Temperatures should climb above freezing around midday -- and we could reach the upper 30s late this afternoon. Some of the ice on area roads is changing to slush. That will help some motorists, but it doesn't mean the roads are anywhere near perfect yet.

Credit Lacey Dowden
Smart cat. Miss Kitty stares at the snow safe and warm inside her home in East Dallas.

Update, 7:24 a.m. Thursday: A late-winter storm has dumped lots of snow on North Texas. D/FW International Airport recorded 3.5 inches, while Dallas Love Field recorded 3.3 inches. The National Weather Service says this is the fourth heaviest snowfall for March in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Scores of school districts are closed, including Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs.

The roads remain hazardous. Roads across North Texas are covered with snow and ice. Fort Worth police say they’ve responded to 102 calls from motorists who were stranded and 58 accidents from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 7 this morning. Some Dallas police officers spent the night on Interstate 35 to push vehicles off the highway, the department reported on Twitter.

There are reports of jack-knifed 18-wheelers in various parts of North Texas -- that is slowing down traffic in some spots.

North Texas Tollway Authority says its roads are open and passable, but roads are covered with ice and snow. "NTTA plow trucks are working to removing snow from the inside and middle lanes first then removing snow from the right lane on the roadways," the authority says.

DART light-rail is offering limited service for now and is working on repairing its system. "Trains currently are operating between these stations: Red Line: LBJ/Central - 8th & Corinth; Blue Line: LBJ/Skillman - 8th & Corinth; Green Line: Market Center - MLK," DART says.

D/FW Airport says driving conditions were poor earlier this morning, with many roads "slushy but passable." But flyover bridge exits to the terminals are closed, meaning motorists were being detoured to the terminals using ground routes. "DFW Airport Department of Public Safety police report some stalled vehicles and DPS officers and sand trucks are being dispatched to assist," D/FW said in a statement.

The airport reports airlines serving D/FW had proactively canceled about 275 departing flights Thursday -- that represents about 25 percent of the day's schedule.

How much snow did we get?

Credit National Weather Service

Update, 12:05 a.m. Thursday: A winter storm warning remains in effect across North Texas until noon Thursday. Many school districts, including Fort Worth ISD, say they’ll be closed Thursday.

“While we would rather have our children in school, it is more important that they are safe and not out traveling icy roadways,” Patricia Linares, the Fort Worth interim superintendent, said in a statement Wednesday night. “Temperatures tomorrow are not expected to go above freezing until at least noon so this will help keep children safe.”

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth said it got 1.2 inches of snow in just a 30-minute period Wednesday evening.

Expect about an inch of sleet and snow in many parts of North Texas, although some areas could see up to three inches.

Roads are slick across Dallas-Fort Worth and authorities are telling motorists to stay home if possible. Fort Worth police said ice formed on most bridges and overpasses, causing many accidents. Westbound Interstate 30 at Camp Bowie was shut down for a while due to a jack-knifed 18-wheeler, Fort Worth police said.

In Denton County, one motorist was killed in Little Elm after being pinned underneath a car during a seven-vehicle pile-up on U.S. Highway 380, police said.

Earlier post: Another winter storm is expected to hit North Texas starting Wednesday afternoon. We’ll update this post throughout the afternoon.

A winter storm warning started at 3 p.m. for North Texas and will last until noon Thursday. (For counties northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, the warning started at noon.)

Around 12:45 p.m., there was a wide range of temperatures in North and Central Texas – from 74 degrees in Hearne to 33 degrees in Bowie, as the storm system starts to move into the area.

What can we expect?

Freezing rain, sleet and snow. A wide swath of North Texas will feel this winter blast, from southwest of Stephenville, through Dallas-Fort Worth and northeast to Paris and the Red River.

Forecasters warn of hazardous driving and spotty power outages. 

Dennis Cavanaugh at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth says afternoon rain will turn to freezing rain and sleet this evening and overnight. 

“That band of heavier sleet maybe with some thunderstorms embedded will move in from the southwest, move southwest to northeast across the area," he said. "So, wherever those storms move over, you’re probably going to pick up pretty close to an inch of sleet.”

The sleet will turn to snow. 

Khristen Jones with Oncor says they’re ready to restore power. 

“We have called in some off-system contractors from other parts of Texas and surrounding states," Jones told KERA. "This personnel will be able to be deployed  to areas where there’s potential for icing or severe conditions.”

How much will we get?

Up to one-tenth inch of ice, then up to two inches of sleet and snow by Thursday morning. Some areas could get more.

But thunderstorms could push the accumulation into the three-inch range, Cavanaugh says.

How cold?

We’ll dip below 32 degrees by early evening. We’ll remain below freezing – into the mid-20s – Wednesday night. Temperatures should go above freezing around noon Thursday. 

What about roads?

Expect hazardous travel conditions starting tonight, the National Weather Service says. In Dallas, city crews will work 12-hour shifts while conditions are bad.

The Texas Department of Transportation is trying to pre treat highways, bridges and overpasses with a brine solution that mitigates ice accumulation. But the rain is making that tricky, if not impossible, prior to the arctic assault this evening.  

Ryan LaFontaine with TxDOT’s Dallas office says LaFontaine says the evening commute could be a challenge, and Thursday morning will definitely see hazardous driving. He says to take it slowly, maintain at least three times the normal following distance, and use extra caution on bridges, ramps and overpasses.

What about schools?

Some outlying school districts are releasing early this afternoon, including Weatherford ISD and Mineral Wells ISD.

Many are cancelling afterschool activities -- that includes Fort Worth, Arlington, Mesquite and Denton ISDs. Dallas ISD says all athletic events are canceled tonight. 

UT-Dallas is closing early: "The University of Texas at Dallas has canceled classes and activities, including the ATEC Distinguished Lecture, that had been scheduled to begin at or after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Normal business operations will continue until 4 p.m."

How about the airports? reports more than 600 flights have been canceled Wednesday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Dozens of flights have also been canceled at Dallas Love Field.

Airlines serving D/FW Airport canceled about 300 Wednesday departures -- that's about 30 percent of the day's flights. As of Wednesday afternoon, airlines had already canceled about 175 departing flights -- about 20 percent of Thursday's flights. 

National Weather Service video forecast

National Weather Service radar

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.
Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.
Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.
Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.