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Jack Frost's wintry touch causes minor accidents and school opening delays — but no major injuries
by Ben Tinsley
Jan 24, 2014 | 73 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marivel DeLeon photo
Several area bridges iced over late Thursday night and early Friday morning. Signs like this one on CR 223 just outside Three Rivers (off of Hwy 72 E) were placed by authorities to warn motorists away from dangerous, iced-covered bridges.
Marivel DeLeon photo Several area bridges iced over late Thursday night and early Friday morning. Signs like this one on CR 223 just outside Three Rivers (off of Hwy 72 E) were placed by authorities to warn motorists away from dangerous, iced-covered bridges.
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Marivel DeLeon photo
These "nopal popsicles" were found on the DeLeon property in Pawnee, early morning Friday, after the ice storm hit South Texas.
Marivel DeLeon photo These "nopal popsicles" were found on the DeLeon property in Pawnee, early morning Friday, after the ice storm hit South Texas.
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LIVE OAK COUNTY— Locally speaking, the major winter storm that hit South and Central Texas over the past two days made for a cold and icy Thursday evening and Friday morning — causing less than a dozen slip-and-side accidents without major injuries, and some minor school delays.

Plus, a lot of shivering.

For many, such as Rick Sowell, owner of Sowell's BBQ, 114 W Thornton St., the storm made for a more cautious drive to work. But nothing too time consuming.

"I live out in Ray Point and on my way in I noticed several bridges were closed," Sowell said. "I sweet-talked them into letting me onto County Road 216 if I promised to drive slow."

The National Weather Service reported that the wind chill factor lowered already freezing temperatures into the early 20s. This came as no surprise to Live Oak residents, many of whom had to walk on crunchy, icicle-encrusted grass on their way to cars covered with sheaths of ice.

The NWS advised this freezing rain and sleet would be short-lived in South Texas, with temperatures rising significantly after Friday afternoon. By midday, the NWS had already reported that the threat of wintry precipitation had pretty much ended — prompting various weather advisories to be dropped.

As did many area school districts; the George West and Three Rivers ISDs opened at 10 a.m., with buses arriving a couple of hours late.

"The students of George West ISD were bundled warmly as they braved the cold temperatures of Friday morning," explained Robin Sellman, GWISD's director of educational services. "The official school day was delayed two hours to allow for temperatures to warm up. School officials made the call Thursday afternoon in order for transportation plans to be made and to allow for communication with parents."

By early Friday morning, it was apparent that attendance would be affected somewhat, Sellman continued.

"However, school officials were encouraged that attendance had improved by mid-morning," she said. "School will release at regular time on Friday afternoon."

Area residents noted that several area roads closed between late Thursday and early Friday to stop motorists from crossing ice covered bridges. On Thursday night, mighty winds rocked travelers along these roads.

According to the Live Oak County Sheriff's Department, there were roughly ten weather-related accidents as of midday, none of them causing major injuries.

Area fire departments had similar reports.

"Our end of the county is calm," Three Rivers Fire Chief Bobby Joe Stewart said around midday Friday. "We haven't had any call-outs except for a (helicopter) ambulance call."

The Texas Department of Transportation, meanwhile, had worked to alleviate icy conditions on the state highways and byways with stockpiles of traction and de-icing material on bridges and overpasses, TxDOT District Engineer Lonnie Gregorcyk said in a news release.

As of Friday morning, as many as 20,650 customers throughout AEP Texas’ 97,000-square-mile service area in south and west Texas were without power because of the storm. But the company reported that damage appeared to be minimal, said Bruce Evans, AEP Texas vice president of electric distribution.

Saturday is expected to be much warmer, with highs in the lower 60s and lows in the lower 40s with west winds and light south winds. Sunday is expected to have highs around 70 and lows around 50, the NWS reported.

Sowell said his employees at his restaurant tend to come in early on colder days. Believe it or not, days like these do not tend to affect customer traffic, he said.

"It seems on days like these that everyone wants to come in and drink coffee," he said.

Reporters Melissa Lovett and Marivel DeLeon contributed to this report.
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