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Friday, July 20, 2012
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The sudden cold snap that brought ice and freezing rain around Texas over the weekend was blamed for hundreds of wrecks on slick roads and overpasses.
The icy road conditions tripped out some of the people who were supposed to be rescuing stranded motorists. In Dallas, crews were working to clear many accidents this morning, including at least five involving fire trucks or ambulances, according to a city spokeswoman.
"Unfortunately, were out there too and being involved in as many accidents as anyone else," the spokeswoman, Annette Ponce, told The Dallas Morning News.
In San Antonio, the upper level of a stretch of Interstate 10 and ramps in both directions were closed much of this morning, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
On Interstate 35 north of the city, several exits were closed and traffic rerouted on to access roads. San Antonio police also closed other roadways for periods, as more than 550 wrecks — but no fatalities — were reported since Saturday night, the San Antonio Express-News reported on its Web site.
San Antonio police said a speeding driver crashed into the rear of a police cruiser, went over a guardrail and fell 20 feet to a street below early Sunday morning on U.S. 281 near Interstate 35. The 28-year-old driver was jailed on a charge of intoxication assault, a passenger was sent to the hospital with possible internal injuries, and the police officer was treated and released.
A 66-year-old Austin woman was killed Saturday when she lost control of her vehicle on a wet road and veered into oncoming traffic, colliding with a pickup.
Dozens of flights were canceled over the weekend at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, including 85 American Airlines flights, according to a company spokesman.
Further north, a deep freeze stretched from the Rockies to New England as workers tried to restore power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses left dark by fierce wind that also was blamed for four deaths.
Rochester, N.Y., had a low of 10 degrees this morning, and wind of up to 17 mph made it feel like almost 10 below zero, the National Weather Service said. In the Upper Midwest, the 8 a.m. reading of 2 below zero at Duluth, Minn., combined with 17 mph wind for a wind chill of 23 below.
As far south as Arkansas, Little Rock had a morning low of just 18 today. Farther west, Alliance, Neb., bottomed out at 8 below, the weather service said.
The frigid temperatures forced officials in Madison, Wis., which had a high of just 3 degrees on Saturday, to cancel the "Polar Plunge" into a lake, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Hayward had a low of 26 below zero on Saturday.
"We first really realized it was a problem when we cut the hole this morning and it immediately skimmed over with ice," Cheryl Balazs of the Special Olympics told WKOW-TV.
Utility officials in New York said crews would work through the weekend to restore power. Utilities reported at least 53,000 homes and business still without electricity Sunday, down from a peak of 328,000 customers blacked out Friday when wind gusted to 77 mph at Rochester.
Thousands of customers also lost power in Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, where the National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 143 mph on Stratton Mountain.
Several states opened shelters, providing havens with light and heat for those without power.
"Most people tough it out the first night and then come in the second night," said Mark Bosma, spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.
Trees toppled by the wind killed two motorists in New York and one in Massachusetts. Another was killed near Rochester when his vehicle slammed into a truck rig whose driver had stopped to clear storm debris from his windshield.