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What is Cobblestone Ice? A look back at the 2013 damage in North Texas

Dec. 6, 2013 introduced a new form of icy weather, in addition to millions of dollars worth of damages.

TEXAS, USA — On December 6th, 2013, North Texas woke up to winter weather that would go on to cause major travel impacts and costing North Texans nearly $30 million in damages. It also brought a new weather term that we never want to hear in a forecast.

We spoke to Jennifer Dunn, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service about this event. She recalls, "A lot of people remember Cobblestone Ice. It was a new term that was created because of what happened here in North Texas. " 

While North Texans are not new to winter weather, what was happening on our roads was something we hadn't experienced before.

The day before, multiple inches of snow and sleet packed on the roads. After it stopped snowing, the snow and ice melted as the sun came out, creating slush on area roads. Temperatures then dropped overnight causing the slush to freeze. Temperatures continued to stay below the freezing point.

Meanwhile, area cars, trucks, and snow plows went out on the roads breaking off chunks of ice due to traction. At night, it froze again, causing these large chunks of ice to mix with the slush. The process continued. The results were rock-like formations that made it a nightmare on the roadways.

"Temperatures were cold at that time, but it was an unusual interaction between the impact that the vehicles were having on that snow or ice and the refreezing and the melting that was happening because of that. Not something we see a whole lot," adds Dunn.

Many North Texas locations spent close to 5 days with freezing temperatures. Aside from travel hazards, the ice also caused several downed trees and power lines. The weight of the ice caused tree limbs to fall on homes, car and other buildings. Luckily, no winter weather in our current forecast.

Note: The following video was uploaded in Feb. 2021

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