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Public Safety

Final Update on Winter Storm Event
by Jim O'Donnel
Friday, February 04, 2011

11:10 a.m. CST, Friday, February 4, 2011


This is my final update Friday morning on the winter storm that has impacted Southeast Texas.


...A Winter Storm Warning for all of Southeast Texas including the Houston/Galveston area will expire at Noon CST today.  Although precipitation has already ended across most areas, roads and highways will remain iced over and extremely dangerous throughout the day, tonight and Saturday morning...


...Numerous accidents causing injuries and some fatalities have occurred in Southeast Texas due to a significant ice storm and many major thoroughfares have been closed through Saturday morning...


As everyone can clearly see, the snow forecast was a complete bust for the Houston/Galveston area but the ice storm turned out to be much more significant and covered a much larger geographical area than was initially anticipated.  A treacherous glaze of ice from 1/0" to 1/2" thick now covers many area roadways and there are still numerous road closures which I will address below.


The precipitation has pretty much ended and no additional ice accumulations are expected.  However, so called "black ice" will remain a problem for the next 24 hours as temperatures may not warm above freezing at all today and could remain below freezing through Saturday morning.  In the event skies partially clear this afternoon and some of the ice briefly melts, there will be a new risk of refreezing later this evening as the temperature drops once again to below freezing.


The reason for the "ice vs snow" in most of Southeast Texas is that the air from about 5,000 to 8,000 feet above the ground warmed up to a few degrees above freezing and this temperature inversion aloft expanded as the night progressed.  Snowfall was limited to the northern and western periphery of Southeast Texas and heavy snow fell along the IH-35 corridor from north of Austin through Waco to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.


Here are the latest road closures and storm impacts that I have as of 11:00 a.m. Friday morning...


Brazoria County (Angleton)...


At least 500 homes without power.  Ice on power lines.



Brazos County (College Station)...


Numerous roads iced over in Bryan and College Station including the Texas A&M campus.



Fort Bend County (Richmond)...


US-59 closed throughout the county.



Galveston County (Galveston)...


Ice accumulation of 1/10" to 1/4" on all elevated surfaces and power lines.  Power failures have occurred on Galveston Island.  Elevated decks of bay and beach houses glazed over with ice and very difficult to walk on.



Harris County (Houston)...


Significant ice accumulation of 1/10" to 1/4" (and possibly as much as 1/2" at some locations) across the county with multiple traffic accidents.  Numerous road and highway closures including: the entire Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway-8), Westpark Tollway; sections of the Southwest Freeway and Eastex Freeway (US-59); sections of the Katy Freeway and the Baytown-East Freeway (IH-10); the NASA Bypass in Webster; sections of SH-225 in Pasadena and Houston.  Some of these could be reopened at any time but most will remain closed until Saturday morning.



Houston County (Crockett)...


1/4" of snow in Crockett. 



Montgomery County (Conroe)...


At least 40 traffic accidents in the county.  Numerous roads and overpasses iced over.



Wharton County (Wharton)...


US-59 closed throughout the county.



This will be my final update on this winter weather event.


Jim O'Donnel

Remembering Jim Guidry

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