Freezing weather cancels flights and leads to death in Texas
Cold weather in Texas has caused nearly 1,500 flights to be canceled nationwide and halted traffic on a highway across Arkansas.
Several auto crashes have been reported in Austin, Texas, with at least one fatality according to the Austin Fire Department. In Travis County, Texas, which includes Austin, police and sheriff’s deputies have been responding to new incidents about every three minutes since 8:00 a.m., according to the Austin-Travis County traffic report page.
More than 700 flights to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and more than 250 flights to and from Dallas Love Field have been canceled or delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware. In Dallas-Fort Worth, a major airport hub in the United States, more than 40% of flights have been canceled.
FlightAware reports that Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 500 flights and delayed more than 250 more.
In Arkansas, Interstate 40 Tuesday morning was covered in ice and “extremely dangerous” in the Forest City area, according to the city’s fire department, and photos posted on social media showed the collapsed cab of a semi-trailer.
Division chief Jeremy Sharp said by telephone that the department responded to two bad wrecks and about 15 other accidents Tuesday morning. He said that in many accidents, drivers increase speed on the highway but face problems when they reach the bridge.
“They hit the ice and started destroying,” he said.
“When I-40 gets closed like that, it can be hours of waiting,” said John Gadbury, who lives in Colt, Arkansas, not far from the interstate. I-40 is usually one of the first things to freeze due to its slight elevation.”
By late Tuesday morning, I-40 had cleared and traffic had resumed, the Arkansas Department of Transportation announced. The highway connects Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee.
The storm began Monday as part of a forecast “several rounds” of winter rain through Wednesday across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, according to National Meteorologist Marc Chenard.
“In general, light to moderate freezing rain causes very large amounts of ice,” Chenard said.
“We expect ice accumulations of likely a quarter of an inch or higher from as far south as Austin, Texas, all the way to Dallas to Little Rock, Arkansas, toward Memphis, Tennessee, and even as close as Nashville, Tennessee,” says Chenard.
The flight disruptions follow the collapse that hit Southwest in December, which began with a winter storm but continued after most other airlines had recovered. Southwest canceled about 16,700 flights during the last 10 days of the year, and the US Department of Transportation is investigating.
The weather service issued a winter storm warning for a wide area of Texas and parts of southeastern Oklahoma and a blizzard warning across the midsection from Arkansas to western Tennessee.
A wintry weather warning is in place for most of Arkansas and Tennessee and for much of Kentucky, West Virginia and southern parts of Indiana and Ohio.
Schools and colleges in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas planned to close or go into virtual learning on Tuesday.
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