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Gaining Traction

Profile image for By John D. Harden and Bj Lewis / Staff Writers
By John D. Harden and Bj Lewis / Staff Writers
Scott Morse, an employee of Denton County Facilities Department, spreads ice melt Monday morning on the sidewalks around the Courthouse on the Square in Denton.
Scott Morse, an employee of Denton County Facilities Department, spreads ice melt Monday morning on the sidewalks around the Courthouse on the Square in Denton.
Photographer Dillion Stewart captured this photo of children sledding at Hawk Elementary in Denton on MondayDillion Stewart - Courtesy photo
Photographer Dillion Stewart captured this photo of children sledding at Hawk Elementary in Denton on Monday
Dillion Stewart - Courtesy photo

Traffic now flowing easier on icy roads as meteorologists predict thaw on Wednesday

The icy roads that kept Denton County and North Texas motorists confined to their homes through the weekend and hindered traffic should completely clear up by Wednesday, National Weather Service meteorologists predict.

Meteorologists say tonight and early Wednesday morning should be the end of the streak of icy road conditions.

Denton County offices are expected to open at 10 a.m. today, but Denton schools and most other area schools will remain closed for a third day as concerns remain about transportation after another night of freezing temperatures.

Store shelves were bare in some areas, though managers were expecting deliveries as soon as the roads improved, and some residents finally ventured out Monday after being cooped up indoors for days.

By Wednesday, meteorologists expect the thawing and refreezing pattern to stop as temperatures will steadily increase through the weekend and stay above the freezing mark.

By Saturday and Sunday, the highs will reach 50 degrees.

Until then, crews are still sanding and clearing roads throughout Denton County as traffic began to flow easier across the region by Monday morning.

Precinct 4 County Commissioner Andy Eads said despite county offices being closed, road and bridge crews were out working. Crews continued to sand the county and state roads.

“We have been a great assistance to the city of Krum, sanding FM1173 and also FM156,” he said. “We’ve worked on Robson Ranch Road and roads throughout the precincts.”

One woman who died on the icy roads Saturday after her truck plunged into Lewisville Lake has been identified. Officials said she is Kayla Alejandra Gawalek, 21, from Lewisville. Officials said she spun out on the ice and went off the road into the water.


Clearing the roads

Eads said he had been out with crews this morning and had seen improvement in the road conditions.

“They are better,” he said. “They’re not perfect but they are better. We just need to see some more warm weather.”

Texas Department of Transportation crews had cleared the ice from most of Interstate 35E and, early Monday, traffic was flowing a lot better than the last couple of days.

The best update Denton County Emergency Management Coordinator Jody Gonzalez had on county road conditions was traffic was finally moving again.

“We got a pretty significant hard freeze and while it didn’t bother the roads that much, it [affected] residences, sub roads and parking lots,” he said.

People may be able to drive to where they need to go but the parking lots may be caked with a thick layer of ice.

“We’re having a difficult time almost to the point where we’re needing a jackhammer to get through it,” Gonzalez said.

Crews were out trying to make parking lots suitable for county offices to open today. He said decisions about opening on time or on a delayed schedule have not been made yet.

Another hazard officials were trying to make people aware of is falling ice from buildings, rooftops and carports.

“We haven’t had any injuries reported to us, but there is a significant hazard,” he said. “I think anyone is aware, if they’ve gone out and taken the ice off their car, how heavy it is.”


Power restored

Local county electric companies are reporting that power has been restored to Denton County residents.

However, as of Monday afternoon, there were about 50,000 residents without power in Dallas, Collin, Delta, Ellis, Fannin, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar and Rockwall counties.

Efforts are still being made to restore power to those customers, officials say.


Regional response

Local police department officials said many motorists decided to stay home and off the roads, which led to fewer and fewer calls as the days progressed.

“On Friday, I think people decided to use their day off to venture out and see the ice,” Corinth Police Capt. Greg Wilkerson said. “But after that, I think people saw how bad the roads were and they decided to stay in.”

But the ice did present some challenges across the region over the weekend. In Corinth, police officials assisted more than 80 motorists on the ice and responded to about three accidents.

Police officials in the northeastern part of the county reported some accidents and instances in which motorists needed help gaining traction.

In Pilot Point, the public works department used four-wheel-drive vehicles to pull stranded motorists who needed help off the ice.

“I wouldn’t say they were trapped. They just needed a little nudge,” Pilot Point Police Chief Ric Sadler said.

And there were few accidents in the rural parts of the county.

In Aubrey, Police Chief Tommy Payne reported only one accident which resulted in a motorist losing control of the vehicle and running over a mailbox.

“Other than that, we had approximately six motorist assists for cars stuck on the ice,” he said.

Staff writer Megan Gray contributed to this report.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.