Minute-by-minute: The Christmas Day storm

Christmas snow

Credit: WFAA

By early afternoon Christmas Day, snow was beginning to stick in Lake Worth.



Posted on December 22, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 9:42 AM

North Texas got a White Christmas on Tuesday, leaving traffic headaches in its wake. Here's a minute-by-minute account of what happened.

9:29p Due to freezing temperatures and road conditions, City of Coppell offices will delay opening until 10 a.m. on Wednesday. - City of Coppell

9:24p The Texas Department of Transportation reports only one lane is open on northbound Interstate 35 at the Denton-Cooke County line after a semi-tractor jacknifed. - TxDOT

8:40p DART says it is operating normally on its Sunday schedule, subject to local conditions. It has additional staff working to clear ice and snow from train stations and transit centers. DART advises passengers to get an early start on Wednesday to accomodate any possible delays. - DART

8:18p A passenger aboard a Las Vegas-bound American Airlines jet told News 8 she and her boyfriend have been waiting to take off for more than four-and-a-half hours. Their plane has not left the gate; the pilot told passengers that D/FW Airport has been unable to accomodate the required de-icing of their plane. "We're in a line of 60 planes to be de-iced," said the passenger, who did not wish her name to be published. "Everybody's really frustrated," the woman added. "I've not taken a vacation in two years."  Almost all departing flights at D/FW and at Dallas Love Field have been either delayed or canceled Tuesday night. - P.J. Ward reporting

7:53p As of 7 o'clock, the City of Fort Worth reports that out of 49 bridge locations checked, 23 required sanding. Roads are morely clear, but the city will continue monitoring until 7 a.m. Wednesday. - Teresa Woodard reporting

7:18p Accident reports are piling up across North Texas as motorists find they are no match for icy roads and highways. As usual, the worst conditions are to be found on bridges and overpasses.  Our advice? Stay where you are if at all possible tonight. - WFAA

6:58p D/FW International Airport reports about 60 flights have been canceled due to weather conditions, but we're hearing from people aboard planes on the ground for hours, waiting for de-icing. In some cases, the operation is taking so long that planes must return to the gates to comply with rules that prohibit holding passengers on planes that haven't taken off for more than three hours. - Teresa Woodard

6:22p Almost 250 accidents have been reported in Fort Worth since the snowstorm hit. - WFAA

6:18p Tuesday night's low temperature is expected to be 19 degrees, close to the record of 16 for  this date. Wednesday's high will be 34, dropping back into the low 20s early Thursday. - Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus

6:07p The snow has finally stopped in Frisco, about four hours after it started. Streets that had been covered in snow are now slushy, but as temperatures continue to drop into the teens overnight, they are expected to freeze over in many locations. - Steve Stoler reporting from Frisco

6:06p Conditions are deteriorating rapidly along streets and highways in North Texas as temperatures plummet to overnight lows in the teens. Dallas Fire-Rescue is said to be working at 21 major accidents in the city. The surface of Interstate 35 in Gainesville is reported to be a sheet of ice in both directions. - Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus

6:01p DART has issued an alert about possible delays due to ice building up on tracks, switches and overhead power lines. Extra trains are running in an effort to keep the lines clear. DART also advises passengers to beware of ice in parking lots and on platforms. - DART

5:38p I just talked with a woman who spun out on the westbound lanes of icy Interstate 30 between Camp Bowie Boulevard and Bryant Irvin Road in Fort Worth. She and her three kids were not injured. Her advice: GO SLOW! - Teresa Woodard reporting from Fort Worth

5:33p I hope your'e enjoying this White Christmas across North Texas. The snow continues, although it's winding down at this hour in the immediate Dallas-Fort Worth area. To the east, snow continues to fall as it moves toward the east. The temperature right now in Denton is 26 degrees with a wind chill of 14.  - Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus

5:25p Steer clear of Interstate 45 near Overton Road in South Dallas; the elevated section of the highway is icing over and traffic is backed up, although the situation has improved after a truck applied sand to the road surface. - Jason Wheeler reporting from Dallas

5:01p Precipitation is now tapering off around much of North Texas as the storm heads east, but we've had a record snowfall on this Christmas Day: 4 inches recorded at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Denton, Collin, Tarrant and Dallas counties received between 1 and 3 inches of snow, with up to 6 inches along the Oklahoma border. Temperatures have dropped into the 20s and with the wind, it feels like it's in the teens. The winds will only increase through the night. - Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus


Snow was falling over a wide area of North Texas on Christmas afternoon.

"Since the transition from rain to snow appears to be occurring very rapidly over the region (so much for the heat island!), it is possible to pick up an additional 1 to 2 inches than previously forecast, particularly in parts of Denton and Collin Counties," WFAA meteorologist Steve McCauley said.

He cautioned about the possibility of "thundersnow," because that could push the totals up locally. "But those should be an exception rather than a rule," McCauley added.

Early Christmas morning, the National Weather Service extended a winter weather advisory to include Dallas and Tarrant counties. The advisory began at 9 a.m. and continues through midnight Tuesday.

It's the winter storm that promises a little bit of everything: thunderstorms, rain, snow, wind, and  bitterly cold temperatures.

By early afternoon, snow was beginning to cover grassy areas in Lake Worth, and rain changed over to snow in Frisco.

The weather service issued a winter storm warning for the counties bordering the Red River, increasing its snowfall estimate along the Red River to 4 to 6 inches. Sherman, Denison, Gainesville and Paris are included in the alert area.

Less accumulation was initially forecast to the south: 2 to 4 inches in Denton, Collin, Hunt, Jack, Wise, Delta and Hopkins counties and 1 inch or less along the Interstate 20 corridor.  But because the rain-to-snow changeover occurred sooner than expected, the final totals could increase.

The Texas Department of Transportation was already reporting icy road conditions in the Panhandle at 7 a.m. as the storm headed toward North Texas.

By noon on Christmas Day, weather stations at Bowie and Bridgeport were reporting light snow, as the temperature dipped to the freezing mark.

As the rain turns to sleet and snow, northwest winds of 25 to 35 mph with higher gusts could result in areas of blowing snow with severely reduced visibility.

While the snow didn't arrive in North Texas in time for the kids to wake up to a White Christmas, many were jarred out of bed by the sound of powerful thunderclaps, rain and hail.

Heading into Christmas morning, all of North Texas remained above freezing as thunderstorms clattered across the region.

The rain was expected to continue through lunchtime. But by midafternoon, as temperatures drop, rain will turn to sleet and then snow in Denton and Collin counties as the sleet moves south into  Dallas and Fort Worth.

"The majority of that wintry precipitation is going to be north of that I-20 corridor," WFAA meteorologist Colleen Coyle said.

The snow will reach Dallas and Fort Worth by late afternoon as the temperature drops below freezing and a powerful north wind from 25-35 mph will make it feel like it's 13 degrees.

The fast-moving weather system will begin moving out of North Texas by 9 o'clock. 

One of the biggest concerns will come Wednesday morning when many people return to work. Bridges and overpasses could still be icy, with low temperatures in most of the region dipping down into the low 20s.

"We are going to see some of this freezing overnight, giving us some 'black ice' as we head into [Tuesday] evening," Coyle said.