Tuesday 23 December 2014

Snow hits US states on 'Ice Friday'

Published 06/12/2013 | 12:41

Sleet falls and ice covers the streets in Dallas (AP)
Sleet falls and ice covers the streets in Dallas (AP)
Snow covers parts of New Mexico (AP)
Ice collects on a car parked outside a store in Dallas, Texas (AP)

Snow and freezing rain has blanketed normally sun-swept north Texas, where residents accustomed to warmer temperatures appeared to heed warnings to stay off nearly impassable roads and out of the cold.

Earlier this week, many in Texas were basking in spring-like temperatures but by Thursday, Texas was facing the same wintry blast that was hitting much of the US, bringing freezing temperatures, ice and snow.

Freezing rain started to pelt roads and power lines, leaving 250,000 customers without electricity on what some are calling "Ice Friday". Schools cancelled classes a day before, many businesses gave workers the day off, and icy roads and pavements were mostly empty.

In the Dallas area, agencies and residents are still haunted by a fiasco two years ago, when an inadequate response to a winter storm crippled the region and left visitors stranded on impassable roads.

This time, all of north Texas mobilised before an expected half-inch of freezing rain began to come down. Temperatures are forecast to stay below freezing after the rain passes, meaning residents will have to contend with icy roads through the weekend.

Road crews were continuously dumping sand on largely empty roads, and utility company Oncor reported 250,000 people were without power in the Dallas area.

Police in Arlington, about 20 miles west of Dallas, reported that icy roads were a factor in the death of one driver whose car hit a truck pulled to the side of the road. Three other traffic deaths in Oklahoma and Indiana were blamed on the weather.

More than 1,000 flights in the Dallas area were cancelled by airlines early on Friday. Texas-based American Airlines and its regional carrier, American Eagle, had cancelled 962 flights by 8.30am, according to flight tracking site Flightaware.com.

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