— By BRIAN SMITH
As much as 3 inches of ice and sleet made Friday fun for some people, frustrating for others while the rest simply took the rare winter storm in stride.
Icy roads and below-freezing temperatures kept most Parker County residents home Friday and into the weekend as area schools and many businesses closed early and weekend events were canceled or rescheduled.
Weatherford’s Christmas Parade was postponed until next Saturday, Dec. 14, and Christmas on the Square was canceled. Also canceled was Careity Foundation’s Celebrity Cutting Horse and Concert at Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth and the Aledo-Wichita Falls high school football playoff game was postponed this weekend with hopes to play it Monday. No time or location had been set as of Saturday’s early publication time for this edition.
There were no reports of widespread power outages in Parker County. To the east, as many as 260,000 homes and businesses were without power at times on Friday, affecting some one-half million people as temperatures Friday night and into Saturday morning were forecast to plunge into the teens in most areas and into the single digits to the north and west of the DFW area.
No utility interruptions were reported locally, according to a City of Weatherford spokesperson.
Weatherford and Parker County crews sanded roads Thursday and Friday but road conditions remained hazardous throughout Friday and were expected to worsen overnight. Another light round of frozen precipitation was forecast for Saturday evening into Sunday morning before conditions begin to slowly improve.
Weatherford Director of Electric Utilities Joe Farley said much of the precipitation in town came in the form of sleet with smaller amounts of freezing rain, which might have helped the situation. Weatherford street crews were dropping sand from trucks starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Streets Superintendent Jim Collins.
Collins said three trucks worked throughout the night in 12-hour shifts, sanding bridges and overpasses with help from TxDOT crews. The 12-hour shifts were expected to continue as temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until possibly Sunday.
“The slush that is being generated right now is only going to refreeze which will cause more problems,” Collins said. “It’s the old adage, if you don’t have to be out on the roads, don’t be.”
Still, there were some who needed to get around. Bill Paxson made the drive in from Millsap and said it took him almost four times longer.
“It ain’t half bad here compared to Millsap,” said Paxson as he filled his gas tank at Brookshire’s. “Of course, there’s a lot more traffic here as well.”
Paxson said he was heading to work in Fort Worth. He had hoped to get the day off like his wife and kids, but duty as a nurse at John Peter Smith Hospital called.
As Friday morning wore on, people were seen going into local grocery stores to buy items needed to ride out the cold weekend.
Patty Oglesby, with AA Wrecker, said their call volume nearly doubled over a typical day and all the towing services were busy. She said nearly all calls were for stranded motorists.
Beginning at 6 a.m. Friday, Weatherford police reported no major accidents, according to Sgt. Stewart Chalmers. He said there were a few minor incidents involving 18-wheeled trucks trying to get into truck stops.
Chalmers said city and state road crews were working together to maintain the major arteries throughout the city, and people staying home and off the roads aided in keeping things quiet.
Chalmers said one of the biggest dangers from the weather in addition to the ice, is not being prepared for the cold conditions.
“People will get stuck and have no way of staying warm,” Chalmers said. “We have dangerous wind chills and this [frozen precipitation] isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Weatherford Home Depot Store Manager Chris McBrayer said the store sold many faucet covers, stacks of firewood and ice melters Thursday ahead of the storm. Friday morning, sales were reported slow but steady as people saw the effects of the storm and came in to purchase items such as chainsaws.
The weather led to more than 1,000 cancelations 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 reported one driver was killed when his car slammed into a truck. Authorities in Oklahoma reported two weather-related traffic deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.