New Arctic front expected to stay over the weekend

BALLINGER– A winter storm with freezing drizzle, light rain and sleet slammed last week Runnels County, wrecking havoc and causing traffic jams through early New Year’s day. According to the latest weather report, a new Arctic front will be affecting Ballinger, Winters and the surrounding area starting Wednesday and will remain in the area over the weekend.

The National Weather Service said that a new winter storm was expected for the middle of this week. This new front was expected to drop the mercury down with afternoon highs in the 30 and overnight lows in the mid teens.

Wind chill could make the temperature drop to the 10 to 20 degree range. More wintry precipitation is possible for the weekend, as an approaching storm system brings a mix of rain, sleet, snow, and freezing rain to the area.

According to a special weather statement issued on Tuesday morning, January 6, “remains a great deal of uncertainty with the forecast at the end of this week and during the weekend. Additional changes will be likely as we get closer. A change of even a few degrees may make a significant difference in the forecast and what type of precipitation occurs. We encourage everyone to continue monitoring this developing weather situation.”

Last week, ice accumulations on area roadways became a road hazard, especially on bridges and overpasses. The Texas Department of Public Safety issued a warning to area residents and travelers, advising to limit driving to emergencies only.

According to the National Weather Service the winter storm or “Arctic blast” covered several area counties, including the cities of Rotan, Roby, Sweetwater, Sterling City, Robert Lee, Bronte, Ballinger and Winters.

Also included in the hazardous weather warning were the cities of Mertzon, San Angelo, Eden, Ozona, Haskell, Throckmorton, Woodson, Stamford, Anson, Hamlin, Albany, Abilene, Clyde, Baird, Cross Plains and Coleman.

The weather caused dangerous driving conditions and ice accumulations of up to one quarter of an inch through Thursday, January 1.

Texas Department of Transportation crews in the San Angelo District treated bridges and roadways with sand to improve driving conditions. Counties reporting the most sleet and ice included Glasscock, Sterling, Runnels and Tom Green.

Travel in these areas was highly discouraged as multiple crashes and cars going out of the road were reported.

Most Texas DPS Driver License offices closed on December 31, due to the inclement weather. Counties affected include Scurry, Mitchell, Stonewall, Fisher, Nolan, Knox, Haskell, Jones, Taylor, Throckmorton, Shackelford and Callahan.

In Far West Texas, the winter storm caused approximately 5,400 power outages, mostly in Alpine and Marathon, according to AEP Texas. Most of the outages were resolved by Monday morning.

During winter weather conditions, TxDOT strongly encourages drivers to check road conditions before deciding to travel. Road conditions can be found by calling TxDOT’s toll-free highway condition line at (800) 452 9292,  TxDOT’s Facebook page or TxDOT’s Twitter account.

According to TxDOT sleet, ice and freezing rain can create extremely dangerous driving conditions, which is why the Texas Department of Transportation strongly advises drivers to stay off the roads as much as possible.