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December 7, 2013

Icy storm slams Southwest

DALLAS — Freezing rain and stinging winds slammed the Southwest Friday and made a strangely blank landscape out of normally sun-drenched North Texas: mostly empty highways covered in a sometimes impassable frost, closed schools and businesses, and millions of residents hunkered down for icy conditions expected to last through the weekend.

Earlier this week, many in Texas were basking in spring-like temperatures that hit the 80s. But by Thursday, Texas was facing the same wintry blast that has slammed much of the U.S., bringing frigid temperatures, ice and snow.

The weather forced the cancellation of Sunday’s Dallas Marathon, which was expected to draw 25,000 runners, some of whom had trained for months. A quarter of a million customers in North Texas were left without power, and many businesses told employees to stay home to avoid the slick roads.

Rob Yates, 44, of the Dallas suburb of Rowlett, had trained for four months to participate in the half-marathon Sunday — his first time competing at that distance. His wife and three children were going to attend the race to volunteer and cheer him on, he said.

Now, “I’ll probably be catching up on some work,” Yates said, laughing.

Yates spent Friday at home with his children, who were outside pulling off icicles and wishing more snow had fallen. But Yates, originally from near Manchester, England, said he stayed inside with his wife.

“It’s kind of unusual weather for Dallas, so they’re just having fun with it,” Yates said. “Me and my wife — adults are not particularly impressed with it.”

Friday’s storm stretched from South Texas, where anxious residents bagged outdoor plants to protect them from the cold, through the Midwest and Ohio Valley and up into northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

In North Texas, agencies and residents haven’t forgotten the disastrous week before the Super Bowl two years ago, when an inadequate response to a snowstorm crippled the region and left visitors stranded on impassable highways.

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