See-sawing winter temperatures likely mean that the white Christmas expected today will dust treetops, roofs and windshields, but have a minimal impact on travel.
As of Christmas Eve, forecasters were still calling for a trace of snow to fall across most of North Texas from a system that is expected to bring heavy accumulations farther north.
In the Red River Valley, meteorologists are calling for 1 to 3 inches of snow. Northern Denton County could also see that much snow. How far south that much accumulates depends on how long the snow falls as the temperatures drop, according to Dan Huckaby, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
A normal Texas winter will alternate between mild weather and temperatures that fall into the 20s and 30s, Huckaby said, but this December has already seen three record highs.
Mark Pettit, spokesman for the Dallas district of the Texas Department of Transportation, said crews are monitoring the weather system, but expect little impact on area roads, beyond bridges and overpasses, because the ground is still warm.
“We’ll keep watching, of course,” Pettit said. “If it starts snowing in the top of Denton County, we’ll be sending crews to hit the bridges first.”
Because temperatures overnight into Wednesday are expected in the teens, road conditions may be a problem for drivers returning to work, Huckaby said.
“Any residual moisture will freeze and freeze hard,” Huckaby said. “It’s hard to see on roadways, and it’s still dark at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. The ice can sneak up on you.”
The cold temperatures also mean The Salvation Army’s shelter at 1508 E. McKinney St. will open its doors and put out extra cots until it can’t fit any more people, said Sgt. Carol Hernandez.
During Christmas Eve lunch at Our Daily Bread, volunteers notified clients of ways to stay out of the cold over the holiday.
Millie Bell, director of Our Daily Bread, said clients can enjoy a Christmas Day luncheon either at Sweetwater Grill and Tavern or at Singing Oaks Church of Christ.
“The hangar” emergency shelter on Nottingham Drive, managed by volunteers from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and Vision Ministries, should be open by 5:30 p.m., Bell said. Then, Wednesday morning, Our Daily Bread will also open earlier, to help people get out of the cold.
Despite the flurry of flurries on Christmas in the past decade, the National Weather Service has recorded fewer than two dozen snows on or near Christmas since 1841.
In 2009, a rare blizzard brought the last recorded Christmas Eve snow, with 3 inches at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and much higher accumulations and snowdrifts in Denton and other areas.
In 2004, about 2 inches fell on Dec. 22, with some snow lingering to Christmas morning. Flurries were reported on Christmas Eve in 2002.
Meteorologists cautioned that even a small change in conditions could trigger more accumulations than predicated, so travelers should monitor the forecasts and road conditions today.
Denton residents can opt in to the city’s new winter weather storm alerts through CodeRED.
The city’s emergency management department has upgraded the weather alerting system to include winter storms, along with alerts for other severe weather.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.