Icy winter blast spreads across Texas
DALLAS (AP) - Get out some extra blankets: Winter is invading Texas with a vengeance as snow, sleet and ice are unleashed on much of northern and western sections of the state.
The National Weather Service forecasts up to 5 inches of snow accumulation Thursday and Friday in the Texas Panhandle and up to 4 inches of snow in the South Plains. To the east, ice from freezing rain will be the threat north of a Brownwood-to-Corsicana-to-Tyler line. As much as a half-inch of ice could accumulate north of a Comanche-to-Grapevine-to-Paris line, bringing down tree limbs and power lines.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has activated the Texas National Guard and deployed equipment and other emergency resources to Wichita Falls and Sherman. The Texas Department of Public Safety discourages non-essential travel in affected areas.
Texas ice storm could rival 2011 Super Bowl snow
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Remember the snowfalls that wreaked havoc on North Texas roadways in the days leading up to the Super Bowl two years ago?
Well, an official at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth says road conditions from the half-inch of freezing rain expected to hit the Metroplex later Thursday could be worse.
NWS meteorologist Victor Murphy says the freezing rain will fall for as long as nine hours. The 3 inches of snow that fell before the Super Bowl in Arlington in 2011 came over three days.
Murphy says ice can prove more problematic than snow. His biggest concern is power outages that could come when ice-coated tree limbs fall on power lines.
Hundreds of flights canceled ahead of storm
DALLAS (AP) - American Airlines and American Eagle have canceled nearly 500 flights as a wintry blast sweeps across much of the U.S.
Fort Worth-based American on Thursday announced the cancellations systemwide in anticipation of deteriorating travel conditions.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines did not cancel any flights Thursday but continues to monitor the worsening weather. Spokeswoman Michelle Agnew says the carrier posted a travel advisory on its website, Southwest DOT com, with the possibility that flights could be delayed.
Officials with Dallas-based Greyhound Bus Lines Inc. had no immediate reports of cancellations Thursday but advised travelers to check the carrier's website.
TxDOT, Dallas road crews brace for winter storm
DALLAS (AP) - The city of Dallas and Texas Department of Transportation say they're rushing to prevent icy road conditions as a winter storm descends on North Texas.
TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzel said Thursday that road crews are applying an anti-icing agent to pretreat major roadways in Dallas, Denton and Collin counties, along with bridges and overpasses in Rockwall, Ellis, Kaufman and Navarro counties.
Dallas municipal officials say it has sand, salt and the ice-preventing agent to apply as needed throughout the city. Spokesman Frank Librio says they plan to concentrate on bridges, overpasses, intersections and major thoroughfares starting from the city center outward. Fire stations, hospitals and public transportation routes also will be a priority.
Both the city and TxDOT urge motorists to avoid any travel unless it's absolutely necessary.
ERCOT says there's enough power as storm arrives
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The operator of the electric transmission grid for most of Texas says there will be enough power to handle usage during the winter storm sweeping across the state.
But Electric Reliability Council of Texas spokeswoman Robbie G. Searcy says it may ask customers to cut their usage should there be significant failures at power plants.
Searcy said in an email Thursday that power generators have been asked to implement plans for inclement weather and to make plants available that previously were scheduled to be offline for maintenance.
Searcy says ERCOT believes there will be enough electricity for the 23 million customers for which it manages the flow of power.
If power plants have significant generation losses, Searcy says ERCOT may ask consumers to cut electric use to maintain the grid's reliability.
El Paso attorney challenging Cornyn for US Senate
EL PASO, Texas (AP) - An El Paso attorney and Democrat has announced she's running against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn.
But Maxey Scherr says she's most-interested in stopping his Senate colleague and fellow Texan Ted Cruz.
Scherr kicked off her campaign at an El Paso event with about 100 supporters Thursday. Spokesman Daniel Barash said Scherr has filed paperwork to compete in next March's Democratic primary.
Scherr wants to serve as a Senate counterweight to Cruz on issues like immigration and health care. While Cornyn is up for re-election next November, Cruz is in the first year of his 6-year term.
She becomes the latest in several little-known Democrats and Republicans challenging Cornyn.
On Wednesday, wealthy Democratic Dallas dentist David Alameel, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year, filed paperwork to challenge Cornyn.
US identifies American teacher killed in Libya
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department says the American shot to death while jogging in Libya is a teacher named Ronald Thomas Smith II.
Marie Harf is a deputy spokeswoman at the State Department. She says Thursday that Smith taught at an international school in Benghazi, a volatile city where the U.S. ambassador was killed last year. Harf says State Department officials have been in touch with the family.
A spokeswoman for the Al-Galaa hospital, where Smith was treated for gunshot wounds, said the victim was from Texas. A security official said the American taught chemistry at the city's International School, a Libyan-owned institute that follows an American curriculum.
Houston-area toddler killed by falling branch
TOMBALL, Texas (AP) - Police say a toddler has died after a 20-foot tree branch fell on the girl's stroller and also left her mother hurt in a freak accident in the Houston area.
Tomball police on Thursday did not immediately release the name of the year-old girl who died at a hospital. Details on the hospitalized mother, who suffered broken bones, weren't immediately available.
Captain Rick Grassi (GRAS'-ee) says the woman was pushing her daughter in the stroller when the branch snapped Tuesday night.
The woman and other volunteers had been putting up Christmas decorations at a clinic in Tomball, about 25 miles northwest of Houston. Jim Eugley, who was assisting with the project and helped rescue the victims, says the toddler earlier had been running around and playing.
Slain Texas teen mom remembered, ex-boyfriend held
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Dozens of people turned out in San Antonio to remember a slain 17-year-old mother whose ex-boyfriend has been charged with killing her as she held their baby.
Bexar (bayr) County jail records show 17-year-old Eduardo Reyes was being held Thursday on charges of murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and child endangerment. An attorney for Reyes, whose bond tops $400,000, did not immediately respond to messages for comment.
Family and friends on Wednesday night attended two candlelight vigils for 17-year-old Megan Hernandez. Her nearly year-old daughter wasn't hurt in Tuesday afternoon's stabbing attack at a bus stop during an argument.
The vigils were held at the bus stop and also at near a school formerly attended by the victim.
The baby has been placed with the victim's relatives.
Boy accused in Houston mall fire, 1 person hurt
HOUSTON (AP) - A juvenile has been charged in a Houston arson investigation after a small fire broke out at a mall department store and one person was hurt.
Houston Fire Department officials say one person was treated for smoke inhalation following the blaze Wednesday afternoon at Northwest Mall, which was evacuated.
Store surveillance video shows a boy moving near a clothing display area then leaving as smoke and fire were detected.
Investigators had a general description of the boy, who was caught after fire calls in two other nearby businesses - a restaurant and a convenience store.
The name of the minor was not released. Further details on the charges were not immediately available.
No damage estimates were released on the three fires.
2nd person dies after Texas hospital stabbing
LONGVIEW, Texas (AP) - A second person has died of injuries suffered in a stabbing attack last month at a Texas hospital.
Harris Teel died early Thursday at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, where the November 26th attack occurred. The 82-year-old Teel was at the hospital waiting to take his son home following a medical procedure when a man identified as 22-year-old Kyron Rayshawn Templeton stabbed five people.
Also killed was Gail Sandidge, a nurse who worked at the hospital for 35 years.
Templeton is in custody on murder and aggravated assault charges. Longview police spokeswoman Kristie Brian says investigators will confer with the Gregg County district attorney's office on additional charges that could be filed.
She says a motive for the attack is unclear. Templeton has refused to speak with investigators.
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