Icy road conditions in Collin County, Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex lead to campus closures
Collin College, the multi-campus college system serving Collin County, Texas, has moved all face-to-face classes to an online instruction mode today due to inclement weather.
The college sent out a "Cougar Alert" via text to students and employees this morning announcing the move: "Classes will be held virtually today, Thursday, 2/11. Employees should stay tuned. Visit www.collin.edu for updates." A second alert, issued at 7:02 am, notified employees and faculty that they should work from home today.
The college has made local news recently for its insistence on in-person instruction during the pandemic.
Collin County, north of Dallas, is one of the four major counties that together make up the Dallas-Fort Worth "Metroplex." Major cities in Collin County include Plano, Frisco, Wylie, Allen, and McKinney. Collin College operates campuses in all these locations. The college system plans to open a small campus in Farmersville, Texas on March 21.
Multiple school closures in Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
Major school systems three of the four counties making up the "Metroplex"—Dallas County, Collin County, and Tarrant County (home to Fort Worth, Texas)—are closed today due to icy road conditions. As of this writing, 277 school systems in the Metroplex and outlying counties have reported closures to local news affiliates.
As of this writing, some school systems in Denton County, Texas, remain open, including the University of North Texas. However, the Denton campus of Texas Women's University is closed today.
Icy conditions to persist overnight
The National Weather Service forecast for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the region, currently set to expire at noon on February 11, warning of icy road conditions and hazardous sidewalks. A thin layer of ice coats roads in the area after bands of freezing rain moved through the Metroplex last night.
The NWS forecast warns that afternoon rains combined with below freezing temperatures "may cause significant icing" in north and central texas. Road condition problems will persist overnight and may be worse tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Arlington Police Department in Arlington, Texas—home of the Dallas Cowboys—reports working twenty-three active accident scenes at once as of 6:50 a.m. on February 11.
Unsafe driving in icy conditions
Driving in icy conditions is never a good idea, particularly in parts of the country like the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex where icing is not a regular problem.
Unlike major metropolitan areas in the northern United States such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, or Buffalo, cities and counties in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area do not maintain robust de-icing infrastructure.
The region's lack of infrastructure for a major freezing weather event became clear to the nation in 2011, when Superbowl XLV was scheduled to take place at the Dallas Cowboys' new Arlington, Texas stadium. Several stadium workers were injured and one killed when ice sheets fell from the roof, and streets and freeways were snarled for days prior to the game.
With today's weather likely to re-ice any glazed roads that become temporarily de-iced during the afternoon thanks to slightly warmer temperatures and road traffic, your best bet is to stay off the roads, since only major thoroughfares will be treated by the few sand trucks available for this purpose. Suburban and neighborhood streets will remain treacherous.
However, if you must drive in winter weather, the American Automobile Association has some important advice.
- Stay home if you can.
- If you must drive, drive slowly, and allow yourself plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Even at slow speeds, it will take your vehicle much longer, in both time and distance, to come to a stop on frozen roads.
- Do not suddenly accelerate, since this may cause your tires to spin.
- Do not suddenly brake, since you may lose control of your car. Take your foot off the gas and slow down significantly before lightly applying your brakes.
These are driving strategies familiar to those who have moved to the Metroplex from northern locations. Unfortunately, local drivers, who see ice so rarely that they seem to always forget how to handle it—and who are aggressive behind the wheel even in the best of conditions—are unlikely to follow this sensible advice.
So the best way to avoid accidents is to stay home today if you can. Otherwise, you might end up being the accident.