DALLAS – Freezing rain and stinging winds slammed the Southwest on Friday and made a strangely blank landscape out of normally sun-drenched North Texas: mostly empty highways covered in a sometimes impassable frost, closed schools and businesses, and millions of residents hunkered down for icy conditions expected to last through the weekend.
Earlier this week, many in Texas were basking in spring-like temperatures that hit the 80s. But by Thursday, Texas was facing the same wintry blast that has slammed much of the U.S., bringing frigid temperatures, ice and snow.
The weather forced the cancellation of Sunday’s Dallas Marathon, which was expected to draw 25,000 runners, some of whom had trained for months. A quarter of a million customers in North Texas were left without power, and many businesses told employees to stay home to avoid the slick roads.
Friday’s storm stretched from South Texas, where anxious residents bagged outdoor plants to protect them from the cold, through the Midwest and Ohio Valley and up into northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
In California, four homeless people have died of hypothermia in the San Francisco Bay Area since last week, authorities said. One victim was found dead Nov. 28, and the other deaths were discovered in the last two days, Santa Clara County sheriff’s Lt. Dave Lera said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Lera said three of the victims died at homeless encampments in San Jose, while a fourth died in a garage “with the door opened.”
Temperatures in San Jose fell to 30 degrees Friday morning, breaking the record low of 32 degrees for that date, which was set in 1904. The low on Nov. 28 was 45 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
In North Texas, agencies and residents haven’t forgotten the disastrous week before the Super Bowl two years ago, when an inadequate response to a snowstorm crippled the region and left visitors stranded on impassable highways.
People in the Dallas area raided grocery shelves and home improvement stores Thursday in advance of what one store manager joked was the Black Friday of bad weather – “Ice Friday.” Most people appeared to heed warnings Friday to stay inside.
The weather led to more than 1,000 cancellations at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the nation’s busiest airports and a key hub for Fort Worth-based American Airlines. Many travelers were stuck waiting and hoping for another flight. Those arriving in North Texas were having trouble finding cabs as many drivers stayed home. Dallas-area light rail trains were not running.
Police in Arlington, about 20 miles west of Dallas, reported one driver was killed when his car slammed into a truck. Authorities in Oklahoma reported two weather-related traffic deaths.
Storms this week dumped 1 to 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and draped many communities in skin-stinging cold. The temperature in parts of North Dakota on Thursday was a few degrees below zero, but wind chill pushed it to nearly 40 below.