Road crews, schools and local governments activate emergency plans

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 3:04 PM

DALLAS — The sunset over White Rock Lake Wednesday night was a stunning display. It was as if it was bidding North Texas a beautifully fond farewell, knowing we wouldn't see it again for a while.

A winter storm is brewing, and will begin bearing down sometime Thursday, bringing with it bitter cold, freezing rain, and ice.

"We have to be ready," said Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Ryan LaFontaine.

He noted that the forecast this time is much different than it was in late November, when crews were on standby for a storm that never materialized.

"It was a good dry run," he said.

The TxDOT Dallas district is responsible for 22,000 lane miles in seven counties. They have 300 trucks and 150 drivers.

"We already have equipment and manpower strategically placed through out the district," LaFontaine said. "And they're in areas where they can be quickly and easily mobilized when the time comes."

TxDOT and city crews loaded up trucks 10 days ago preparing for a winter weather storm that didn't deliver. Meteorologists say this one likely will — and right in time for the Metro PCS Dallas Marathon.

"My hope is we can get out of Houston early enough so when we get to Dallas it's not dark, so we don't get stuck on the road," said Rachel Williams, who is driving to Dallas from Houston to run in the race. She's hopeful she can get here, and that once she is here, that the Marathon course is clear.

"I don't run on ice, being from Houston!" she said, laughing.

No one can drive on ice, either. That's why Fort Worth ISD has already started its emergency planning. Administrators met Wednesday afternoon and alerted parents to watch the district's app and website closely for any potential schedule alterations.

"When you're having to think about closing down an organization the size of Fort Worth ISD, you're really thinking of closing down a small city," explained district spokesman Clint Bond.

Conference calls are happening across the region; emergency operations centers are being opened. The weather can't be controlled, but the response — and the attitude about it — can.

"No, nothing's gonna keep me away," Rachel Williams pledged. "I have the mindset that if the race goes on and there's ice on the road, I'll trash my goal and just have fun with it."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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