Road, power crews preparing for icy conditions

Published on Wednesday, 4 December 2013 20:43 - Written by By Faith Harper fharper@tylerpaper.com

Wintery weather is headed toward East Texas and local agencies are asking residents to be cautious as conditions get icy.

John Adams, KTYX CBS 19 chief meteorologist, said a cold front is expected to hit East Texas today. He said the first thing residents will notice is a north wind, and temperatures will get colder as the day goes on.

He said it will be a cold, windy and rainy day, with temperatures hitting the 30s around sunset and frozen precipitation expected tonight and Friday morning.

Tonight the Interstate 30 corridor, sear Sulphur Springs and Paris, is expected to see icy conditions.

“Anyone traveling north and northwest toward Arkansas could start to see some frozen precipitation overnight today and Friday morning,” Adams said.

Saturday could bring icy conditions to the Interstate 20 corridor, Adams said.

“Travel is going to be difficult this weekend, especially if you are heading northward,” he said. “If you head south you should be OK, but anything Tyler and northward, you might encounter ice on the bridges; there could be a significant accumulation of ice on those northern bridges.”

Temperatures will inch up into the 40s on Sunday and Monday, Adams said.

Larry Krantz, spokesman for TxDOT, said the department is ready to combat the ice on roads, but motorists should still be cautious on bridges and overpasses.

“We had a good dress rehearsal with the weather we had the week of Thanksgiving,” Krantz said. “We had an opportunity to get all of our equipment down and tested in advance of that event. … We are going to be spending (today) gassing up our trucks and getting out our cold weather gear.”

Krantz said the warm weather, with near record highs on Wednesday, will help keep roads from freezing as quickly, but bridges are exposed and are more sensitive to weather change.

It is important to slow down and not rush, he said. Give more stopping time than needed, and don’t drive next to other drivers or in their blind spots.

“You want to have that space around you as best you can,” Krantz said. “If someone loses traction on the roadway and spins off, you don’t want to be a part of that.”

He said to also be aware and patient of TxDOT crews doing sanding work on the roadways.

“If you encounter the sanding convoy, move over and slow down to 15 miles under the speed limit …” he said. “This is the time of the year to not get in a hurry. … Leave early and take your time. … Getting there late is better than not getting there at all.”

Charles Hill, Oncor’s Eastern region customer operations manager, said crews also are prepared with fueled up trucks and added supplies.

Hill said the company made a first-ever move to ensure they are prepared for the inclement weather.

“We cancelled vacation for all of our employees who had vacations scheduled today, Friday and Monday,” he said. “We went ahead and canceled those vacations so we would have every available work resource at our disposal.”

Hill said it only takes about a fourth of an inch of ice to cause major problems, and the expected winds could cause problems.

“If we get an ice accumulation on trees with as many leaves as they still have on them, it could be a substantial storm.”

Hill said Oncor is prepared for the worst.

“It’s all ‘hands on deck’ at this point for us,” he said.

To report a power outage power outage, visitwww.oncor.com or call 888-313-4747.