Icy weather bears down on US MidWest

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iol news pic Cold Snap Texas~2

AP

A gust of wind collapses Joseph Mezo's umbrella as he walks to work in light sleet and ice conditions in Dallas. Winter storm and ice warnings are in effect through much of today for parts of six states in the Midwest, including Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Dallas - Snow and freezing rain blanketed normally sun-swept North Texas, where residents accustomed to warmer temperatures appeared to heed warnings Friday to stay off nearly impassable roadways and out of a skin-stinging cold.

Earlier this week, many in Texas were basking in spring-like temperatures of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). But by Thursday, Texas was facing the same wintry blast that's hitting much of the US, bringing frigid temperatures, ice and snow.

Freezing rain started to pelt highways and power lines Thursday evening, leaving a quarter-million customers without electricity Friday morning. Schools canceled classes a day before, many businesses gave workers the day off, and frigid roads and sidewalks 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 highways.

This time, all of North Texas mobilized 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 highways, and utility company Oncor reported 250 000 people were without power in the Dallas area, where temperatures had fallen into the 20s and some places saw light snow.

Police in Arlington, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) 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 canceled by airlines early Friday. Texas-based American Airlines and its regional carrier, American Eagle, had canceled 962 flights by 8:30 a.m., according to flight tracking site Flightaware.com.

Sapa-AP


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