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Winter weather strikes Huntsville, again

Web Editor

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 23:01

Winter Weather

Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

The Ron and Rachael Blatchley Clock Tower got its fair share of the winter fluff.

Snow in Texas may come around once every other year, but twice in a week?

Sam Houston State University students and Huntsville residents will bundle up in what winter clothes they own Tuesday and Wednesday for the second time in a week.

Huntsville Emergency Management Coordinator John Waldo said by press time Monday that residents would experience freezing temperatures beginning early Tuesday that will continue through Wednesday night.

“At this point, we have a 20 to 40 percent chance of receiving two to four inches of snow, as well as sleet throughout the day on Tuesday, and temperatures will below freezing until mid-day on Wednesday,” Waldo said. “City crews will sand streets as needed including overpasses and major roadways.”

Huntsville Police Department Lt. Jim Barnes said residents should only use roadways for “essential trips only” and to “exercise extreme caution and budget additional time for longer trips.”

“With the winter storm warning in effect for our area, it would be best to have as few drivers on the road as possible,” he said. “If you do have to drive, make sure to slow down, watch the roads and be mindful of the vehicles around you.”

Texas Department of Transportation trucks will be on call as well, laying down traction and de-icing materials to bridges, overpasses and shaded areas in 10 counties including Walker County.

“TxDOT is prepared for the storm and asks all motorists not to drive, but if they have to, slow down and be safe,” Bob Colwell, TxDOT Bryan District Public Information Officer, said.

Colwell said if drivers do get on the road that they should:

  • reduce speed,
  • increase following distance,
  • use extra caution on bridges, ramps and overpasses,
  • stay back at least 200 feet from vehicles treating or clearing roadways, and if you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of the skid

TxDOT used 115 employees, 35 de-icing and traction spreading trucks, 10 vehicles to monitor the roads and 35 vehicles to watch ice-prone shadowed areas Thursday and Friday when the first winter weather came through the area.

SHSU canceled classes at 10:20 p.m. Thursday in light of the weather conditions, giving students a day to play in the snow, which had accumulated as much as four inches deep in some areas of Walker County. Some students flocked to Pritchett Field, Recreational Sports Fields, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and various hills on campus to build snowmen, have snowball fights, and sled using cardboard boxes and the like.

The nation has been dealing with freezing temperatures for the last month. According to CNN.com, on Jan. 24, Louisiana State Police closed the Texas border due to the number of wrecks caused by ice buildup. Houston authorities had to close off several bridges because cars would slip backwards.

Newscasters across the nation picked up the “polar vortex” phrase after the super-chilled low pressure system set record lows in several major cities. Green Bay, Wisc., dropped to -18oF shattering a previous record set in 1979. Babbit, Minn., was the coldest place in the country at -37oF.

Entergy Texas sent a text message to customers saying that the energy company is “prepared to respond to (the) winter storm. Make your plans for safety and comfort during outages with tips and updates at http://enter.gy/storm.”

Walker County Emergency Management Coordinator Butch Davis said the Emergency Operations Center – located at the Walker County Sheriff’s Office – will be open. Residents with questions or concerns about local response to the weather can call 936-435-8035.

For questions regarding road conditions, call TxDOT’s toll-free line at 1-800-452-9292 or visit their Facebook or Twitter pages.

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