Central Texans hoping to leave their homes and shelters for supplies, gas or to check on family and friends will not find cooperation soon from the weather or road conditions.
The National Weather Service forecasts a winter storm bringing sleet mixed with snow to the Waco area late Tuesday evening and extending into early Wednesday morning.
“It’s mostly an ice threat,” Fort Worth-based meteorologist Sarah Barnes said.
Accumulation of one-tenth to one-quarter inch of ice and less than an inch of snow is expected.
With the ground already cold from several days of sub-freezing temperatures, the small amount of ice expected on top of snow and ice from the previous winter storm will make driving even more hazardous, and the weather service is discouraging travel from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.
A low temperature of 17 degrees is forecast for Tuesday night with a high Wednesday of 28 and a low Wednesday night of 19.
Hopes for the sun to melt what is on the ground will have to wait a few days. Freezing temperatures likely will last until Friday or the weekend, Barnes said.
Texas Department of Transportation road crews were concentrating Tuesday on state highways with higher traffic, but road conditions across the Waco district were still hazardous, spokesperson Jake Smith said.
The department’s drivetexas.org showed few slowdowns expected on Interstate 35 as of Tuesday afternoon outside of a stretch between Waco and Hillsboro, from mile marker 341 to 368 northbound.
The only road closure reported in the district was State Highway 377 from McGregor to Mother Neff Road south of McGregor because of waterline work. Heading into Tuesday night’s expected precipitation, no major accidents blocking traffic were posted to the DriveTexas site.
Crews will continue their work on bridges, overpasses and other slippery stretches of road as long as sub-freezing weather continues and road conditions are dangerous.
“They’re working around the clock, night and day,” Smith said.
Smith advised would-be motorists to stay at home, particularly as sub-freezing temperatures are expected to last for several days with freezing participation forecast for Wednesday.
Anyone venturing out should drive slowly, allow extra time for travel, and carry items including food, blankets and water for use if they get stranded, he said.
Icy runways at Waco Regional Airport have shut down air travel since Sunday and likely will continue to do so for at least another day, with the next departing flight scheduled for Thursday, airport director Joel Martinez said. It is the longest airport shutdown in his tenure as director, which started in 2008. The longest previous shutdown he had seen here lasted 36 hours.
The airport does not have the equipment needed to de-ice or plow runways when ice and snow cover them, but the rarity of that happening in Waco does not justify the expense of maintaining a snow plow and training drivers to operate them, Martinez said.
Passengers wanting to know the status of their flights should check with the airline issuing their tickets, he said.
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