By Amanda Rogers
This week’s winter storm delivered three straight days of record-setting temperatures, power outages, snowfall that made history, broken water lines and icy roads, starting on Valentine’s Day.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing for the first time in a week this afternoon, but this morning could be the most dangerous on the roads, says Mansfield police officer Zhivonni Cook.
“We’re still working accidents,” Cook said. “The roads are thawing, exposing the ice below. Some drivers are getting a little overconfident.
“We expect to have thawing and then an overnight freeze so please drive slowly, please give yourself extra room to stop and extra time to get where you’re going,” she said.
“The residential roads are slippery,” said Cook, the department’s public information officer. “Major thoroughfares are starting to clear up, but they are going to freeze.”
The city planned to use a backhoe to clear the snow and ice on the bridge at US 287 and Walnut Creek Drive, said Belinda Willis, the city’s director of communications and marketing, and has been working around the clock to keep the streets clear.
Since the storm began Sunday, the police have worked five major crashes and 17 minor accidents with no fatalities, Cook said. But there have been a lot of people getting stuck in the ice and snow. Police officers, including Police Chief Tracy Aaron and Assistant Chief Kyle Lanier, have been helping push drivers out of the snow, and delivering prescriptions and dog food for people who could not get out, she said.
“We’re in this together,” Cook said.
The cold front moved in Sunday, dropping temperatures three straight days of record-setting low temperatures, said Jason Dunn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service – Fort Worth. On Sunday, the temp dropped to 9 degrees, Monday’s low was a record 4 degrees and Tuesday’s low was a record -2 degrees.
To top it off, the area received a total of 4 to 5 inches of snow in two rounds, starting Monday and then again on Wednesday. Dallas-Fort Worth has gotten a total of 5 inches so far in February, Dunn said, which ranks this month as the fourth highest February snowfall in history. In February 1978 still holds the title with 13.5 inches, he said.
As the temperatures dropped, the state’s power grid could not keep up with the demand and millions of Texans, including up to 1.5 million in North Texas, lost electricity.
The city opened warming stations at the Chris Burkett Service Center, 620 S. Wisteria St., and the Mansfield Activities Center, 106 S. Wisteria St., for people who had lost power. And the people came in a steady stream, said Ann Beck, the city’s marketing and communications manager.
“We’ve had some people spending the night,” she said. “A lot of people have come in just to warm up and charge their phones. We do have showers at the service center.
“The fire department brought extra cots,” Beck said. “We do have mats (at the MAC) for tumbling and karate. It’s been a great space to have. Emergency management and police have brought sandwiches, and last night there were two large pans of pasta.
“The police have been making drops from the hospital to the warming centers because (the people) didn’t have a warm home to go to,” she said.
The city doesn’t have a total of how many people used the warming stations, but the Chris Burkett Service Center, which can hold 20-25 people, has been close to capacity, Beck said. The MAC, which can hold up to 200, has seen a stream of people, ranging from 20-40 at a time, she said.
The warming centers will remain open until 5 p.m. Friday, and the city will make a decision Friday whether to keep them open longer.
“Power outages in the city are now isolated incidents and may be associated with transformers or problems with power lines,” Willis said. “If residents don’t have power, they should continue to report to Oncor (888-313-4747).”
Willis said as temperatures warm up, so do the calls for broken pipes.
“We are overwhelmed with water calls,” she said. “As pipes start to thaw, they are bursting. Go to our website, https://www.mansfieldtexas.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=461, and watch a video on how to turn off your water with a wrench and screwdriver. If the water is starting to come into your house, you can go out and immediately turn off the water.
People with burst pipes should also call the water department’s emergency number, she said. The daytime number is 817-276-4230, and after-hours number is 817-473-8411.
“People need to understand that we are answering a lot of calls,” Willis said. “Just keep calling until you get a live person. Crews have been on the street 24/7.”
Due to the snow and slippery roads, trash was not collected this week, so the city will be figuring out how to pick up two weeks’ worth of garbage next week.
“We will be putting out information Friday about trash and recycling collection next week,” Willis said. “There may be some delays because the crews may be overwhelmed.”
The good news is that the cold is almost over, Dunn said. The high on Friday is expected to be 37, and up to 45 on Saturday with lows in the 60s by early next week, he said. And no more snow if forecast for the rest of the month.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.