Snow, freezing rain immobilize Texas
Residents of the Lone Star State are unaccustomed to cold weather.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Icy conditions here closed the Alamo and other attractions Wednesday, but for tourists from the North, it created another form of amusement: watching the locals get bundled up.
Dale and Crystal Barber, standing in lightweight jackets near the Alamo, that symbol of Texas toughness, were incredulous at the bulky jackets, gloves and stocking caps residents put on to cope with temperatures in the 30s. They said the sleet, light snow and ice that closed schools and businesses across much of the state would go virtually unnoticed this time of year in their hometown of Sandusky, Mich.
"These people from San Antonio come in with their big parkas. I thought, 'Oh, come on,'" said Dale Barber, chuckling.
Schools closed for wintry weather? It hardly ever happens, even though buses have to travel unpaved rural roads around Sandusky, said Crystal Barber, 60. "They plow through anything."
Snow and freezing rain spread across Texas all the way to the Mexican border Wednesday, glazing freeways and immobilizing communities unaccustomed to such cold. The storm system has caused problems in many areas of the country since Friday, with at least 62 related deaths in nine states reported.
Unusual for Lone Star State
Accumulations in Texas were light by many regions' standards -- the Dallas area topped out at a half-inch of snow, and more than 3 inches piled up west of Fort Worth. But hundreds of airline flights were canceled, tens of thousands of electricity customers lost power and a 300-mile stretch of Interstate 10, a major east-west highway that cuts through the state, was closed.
Marc and Courtney Unger, visiting San Antonio with their 3- and 7-year-old boys from Tallahassee, Fla., found most of their plans wrecked by the cold weather and closed attractions. The Alamo shut down for the morning but reopened at noon.
Instead of visiting the Children's Museum or other attractions, the boys amused themselves knocking icicles off signs and benches.
"We're very disappointed it didn't go those few extra degrees colder for snow," Unger said, laughing.
Across the country, storms since Friday have cut off what had been an unseasonably mild winter in many areas. Seven deaths were attributed to the storm in Texas.
In Oklahoma, the ice storm was blamed for at least 23 deaths, most from auto accidents, and about 78,000 utility customers in eastern Oklahoma remained without power.
In the mountains north of Los Angeles, a sudden snowstorm brought traffic to a halt on busy Interstate 5. Snow mixed with hail also fell at lower elevations of northern Los Angeles County, leaving some neighborhoods with rare coatings of white.
California already had been suffering from an unusual cold snap that threatened many of its winter crops and wiped out a most of its citrus.
In Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, roads were largely empty Wednesday morning. Motorists unaccustomed to driving on ice took the day off after waking up to light snow, trees sagging with ice and icicle-draped cars.
Many schools closed for the day or opened late.
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