Road crews, motorists on standby for Christmas Day storm

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by TERESA WOODARD and JASON WHEELER

WFAA

Posted on December 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 25 at 3:20 AM

DALLAS — Filling up in advance of the storm, a lot of automobiles were being readied at Fuel City in Dallas Monday night for a sort of winter hibernation.

With a Christmas forecast calling for driving rains, sleet, and snow, driving a car will be out of the question for some.

“I haven’t driven in it before, so I don’t think I’ll do that. [Staying at home] would probably be the best thought for me,” Cluster Lastie said.

With just barely a chill in the air and sun peeking through the sky, it was tough on Christmas Eve to envision a Christmas Day that could look a lot different.

But it's possible.

"We're ready to go, whenever the weather is ready to go," said Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Releford. "Whether it's Christmas Eve, Santa's in the air, it doesn't matter; we're gonna be there."

As of Monday afternoon, the forecast was calling for a possible mix of sleet and snow. It could be worse the further north you travel.

The storm will likely arrive after noon on Christmas Day.

"We don't think it's going to be a full seven-county event," Releford said, referring to TxDOT's entire North Texas district.

But TxDOT — like all other governmental agencies — said they have a plan. Multiple crews are on standby, waiting to be called in at a moment's notice.

Releford and other agencies explained that by late Christmas morning, they'll have monitors out driving the roads, concentrating on spots that traditionally get slick, like bridges and overpasses. If they observe trouble anywhere, they will immediately begin calling in the crews who will begin laying sand and de-icing materials.

"We've had our equipment prepared since October," Releford said. "We've had our stockpile of de-icer stocked since October — and covered, of course, because that material can't get wet or it starts to melt."

Releford said TxDOT has 150 trucks available to cover their seven-county district.

The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth said they both have 30 sanding trucks ready to roll, with several city employees on call if they are needed.

The North Texas Tollway Authority reported 79 dump trucks prepared to begin work, six spreaders capable of spraying de-icer, nine snow plows, and 18 pickup trucks that can transport crews or even target specific areas with de-icer or sand.

"I don't want to jinx it, but at this point, everybody's really calm," Releford said.

At Fuel City in downtown Dallas Monday afternoon, a group of three North Texans eating lunch admitted they like the idea of snow on Christmas.

"But I just hope it comes after I'm already home," said Stephanie Cole, who grew up in Dallas.

"I'll just take it nice and slow, and avoid all those drivers who used to live up north and think they can still drive on this stuff," laughed Chuck Jenson.

If you are out on the roads and you encounter trouble spots, call them in to 311 when you are in a position to safely do so.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com and jwheeler@wfaa.com

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