Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

December 10, 2013

Ice storm cripples county


Mineral Wells Index

— By CLINT FOSTER



The ice is still melting from the weekend winter storm that many on social media referred to as the “Icepocalypse.”

Sleet and freezing temperatures blasted North Texas on Thursday night, causing thick ice to cover the roadways, keeping residents stuck in their homes, canceling plans and forcing many businesses to stay closed and under-stocked.

After a high of 73 degrees on Wednesday, Dec. 4, the temperature plummeted to a new record low of 23 degrees the following day. Then came the storm that turned the town of Crazy Water into a town of crazy ice.

Over the night between Thursday and Friday, Mineral Wells saw .77 inches of sleet and 16 mph winds that covered the city in a blanket of white.

The temperature reached its lowest on Saturday with an average of a frigid 20 degrees. For the second time in three days, Mineral Wells experienced a new record low, with Saturday’s minimum temperature at a mere 16 degrees.

For some perspective – according to the National Weather Service – the average temperature in Mineral Wells between Dec. 5 and 9 is around 47 degrees with average highs in the neighborhood of 58 degrees.

The only time Mineral Wells experienced colder climates during that five-day stretch was in 2005, when record-breaking lows fell as far as 10 degrees.

The winter of 2005 still holds minimum temperature records during this time that were not broken by this year’s storm for Dec. 6, 8 and 9.

All over North Texas, crews worked tirelessly, spreading sand and clearing ice to make the roads drivable.

City Manager Lance Howerton said city crews and the Texas Department of Transportation split road-clearing duties in Mineral Wells with TXDOT focusing primarily on U.S. Highways 180 and 281.

Mineral Wells Director of Public Works Kelly Jones said city crews mainly spent the weekend sanding roads around town to provide drivers with some traction on the slick ice.

City crews sanded roads around Palo Pinto General Hospital, Holiday Hills Country Club, SE 6th Street and NW 23rd Street, including the intersection on NW 23rd and North Oak.

He said city crews also cleared some streets with blades.

On Monday, Jones said his crews had plans to blade SE Martin Luther King Jr. Street from Oak to SE 25th Street as well as SE 11th Avenue by Travis Elementary School.

 With icy roads came wrecks for the few who ventured outside.

The Mineral Wells Police Department reported three accidents over the weekend, one of which was a hit and run and another that was caused almost exclusively by ice.

 According to a crash report, two cars were parked prior to the crash: a white 2004 Ford F-250 at the top of a steep grade in the 600 block of NW 15th Street and a white 2007 Jeep Cherokee in front of a home in the 1600 block of NW 4th Avenue.

A combination of the ice and wind pushed the F-250 down the slick hill, where it crashed into the jeep.

When Police arrived, they said there were no drivers at the scene.

 In addition to road hazards, the heavy ice also caused widespread power outages in North Texas, particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

However, Oncor Electric Area Manager Ken Harris said Mineral Wells was fortunate to avoid the bulk of the regions electrical problems, with power outages in the city that were few and far between.

 “All in all, we were very lucky,” he said. “We were in pretty good shape.”

 Harris said one of the biggest factors that allowed the company to avoid power issues in Mineral Wells was all the tree trimming that was done during the last freeze between Nov. 22 and 25.

After that early icing, Harris explained to the Index that when trees limbs get weighed down by ice, they can effect power lines, leading Oncor to employ extra crews specifically for tree trimming.

 “Any [tree trimming] we did previously definitely helped this time,” he said. “Hopefully everything will stay quiet.

“If we can just keep the moisture away, we’ll be in good shape.”

The icy conditions also stopped 18-wheel trucks from making grocery deliveries this weekend, and most of the grocery stores in Mineral Wells were without eggs, bread, milk and other essential grocery items.

Metro Food Store manage Ronnie Davidson said his store was out of bread by Friday.

“It was a madhouse here on Friday,” Davidson said Monday morning. “People rushed in and bought pretty much anything they could get their hands on.

“We sold a lot of firewood, and we ran out of bread, milk and eggs and main essentials like those.”

Davidson said a bread truck was supposed to make a delivery by early Monday afternoon.

“We are on the list of deliveries,” he said.



Index News/Sports Editor Tony Eierdam contributed to this article.