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Freezing, icy forecast causes school delays, business closings

By JR Ortega
Jan. 23, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.

Amy Shay folds up her umbrella after braving the cold and light rain getting into her car at the Victoria Mall on Thursday evening. Although the forecast predicted temperatures below freezing on Friday morning Shay said that she wasn't too distressed about the cold. "I still consider us lucky compared to our friends up north," she said.

Amy Shay folds up her umbrella after braving the cold and light rain getting into her car at the Victoria Mall on Thursday evening. Although the forecast predicted temperatures below freezing on Friday morning Shay said that she wasn't too distressed about the cold. "I still consider us lucky compared to our friends up north," she said.

Samantha Gamez stood in an aisle at a Family Dollar on Thursday with dog treats in hand, dressed as though it were a crisp fall day outside.

Meanwhile, the windows facing North Navarro Street told a different story - one of gray skies, blustering winds and falling temperatures.

The Crossroads and the rest of the state braced for Friday morning's wintry weather, a forecast calling for morning temperatures below freezing accompanied with freezing rain and sleet.

Much of the central and southern areas of the state, including the Crossroads region, are under a winter storm warning from 2 a.m. to noon Friday, said Waylon Collins, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi.

"There is a polar air mass following a cold front that moved in," Collins said.

The reason for the expectation of freezing rain and sleet is a warmer moist air mass in the atmosphere that is overrun by cold air. This, he said, causes wintry conditions.

The atmospheric conditions are not right for snow, he said.

Gamez, 25, of Victoria, said her family in Longview was getting snow.

"I hear it's going to snow like it did in 2004," Gamez said, cracking a sly smile. "I don't think so. I think it's all a little dramatic."

Still, you can never be too prepared, so Gamez spent early Thursday afternoon preparing for the weather by buying treats and blankets for her large outdoor Labradors, which she planned to bring inside.

"They'll tear up the house," she said, laughing.

Gamez said she is not bothered by Texas winters or summers, but for others in the community, freezing temperatures - just like heat wave temperatures - can be excruciating.

Glenn Haynes, who manages intake at the Victoria Salvation Army, said as of Thursday afternoon, only three of its 30 beds were available for area homeless people.

The Salvation Army opens up its facility for the homeless any time temperatures drop below 45, he said.

If beds are not available, the facility will make mats available, he added.

"We'll have a place for them," he said. "That's for sure."

Also most affected by cold temperatures is the elderly, which is why Victoria's two senior citizens centers will be closed Friday, said executive director Debbie Garner.

Garner's employees spent Thursday delivering extra meals to those who rely on the centers for their meals.

"We don't cancel unless it's something bad," she said. "I don't want to endanger my clients and employees."

The Texas Department of Transportation was making preparations of its own, said Helena Wright, Yoakum District spokeswoman.

Crews will spend Thursday night and Friday morning at bridges throughout the district to help with de-icing and sanding.

Also, the Yoakum District office staff planned to stay open through late morning Friday to take calls from the general public about any bridge closures or detours.

"Our message remains the same," she said. "Reduce the speed on the roadways. If you don't have to go out, then don't."

With deteriorating weather conditions expected, companies such as AEP are prepared as if this were any other natural disaster event, said Elgin Janssen, spokesman.

As of Friday night, at least one major power outage was reported in Port Lavaca, where 865 customers were left without electricity because of a downed pole, he said.

The power was expected to be restored by 9:30 p.m. Friday, and it is unknown what caused the pole damage, he said.

Janssen said the AEP crew has prepared for any other outages that may happen because of the conditions.

"We've been in winter storm mode since this (Thursday) morning," he said. "I would say we are prepared to handle it should it occur."


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