By Jeff Ray

Temperatures bottomed out at DFW right at 21° this morning. Most areas outside of the metroplex dropped down well into the teens. This is the coldest weather we’ve had in 2013 so far. What a difference a couple of days make… like more than a 70-degree difference!


It’s insult to injury following the 2″-4″ of sleet that fell on us yesterday. The hardest hit areas were across Denton and Collin Counties and to the north:

NTX Sleet Accum

To state the obvious; this was a SLEET storm not a snow storm. Yes, it’s pretty and white but if you step out on it you quickly realize its much more like a skating rink than a ski slope. Three inches of sleet has a ten-fold greater impact on the human endeavor than 3″ of snow. Icing on the roads and trees is the prime example. Sleet has more than twice the density and water content (3″ of snow wouldn’t bring down trees and power lines). While it takes 10″ of snow to get you an inch of water, you’d only have to melt down about 4″ of sleet to an 1″ of liquid.

Sleet verse Snow

This density difference means thicker slush on the roads, bigger mounds and bigger ruts. It also means a slower, more impacting melt. It takes much more energy to melt 3″ of sleet as opposed to 3″ of snow.

Sleet verse Snow1

When sleet melts there is considerably more melt. This makes for even more of a “re-freeze” problem that happens during these long, cold nights. Keep in mind that these ARE the longest nights of the year (officially the longest one is Dec. 17th). With lows forecasted to be in the 20’s all the way to Friday we are going to get very tired of “black ice”.  In other words; these road problems will lessen in coverage into the work week but linger long in spots.

This will be not only the coldest day so far in 2013, it’ll be the coldest day we’ve had in almost three years. It will be the coldest December day we’ve had in 15 years:

brutal cold2

Tonight cloud cover and a west wind late should keep the temperatures in the 20’s again for a low. Tomorrow we should get enough sunshine to get above freezing for a few hours, really helping the over-worked road crews clear away some of these bad spot. There is much time ahead that will be spent above freezing, perhaps 4-5 hours total until Wednesday:


We’ll  have some light sleet/snow move over later today and early evening. We can see the system over west Texas headed our way.


We are already getting light amounts here and there ahead of this system. We expect light amounts again later but likely scattered enough to produce just small impacts on the roads:

NTX Rain Chances

This looks to be it for precipitation chances for a while. A system that passes to our south and southeast puts a 20% chance of rain and freezing rain across our southeast on Monday.

Here are the forecasted highs tomorrow:

NTX Futurecast Temps

And here is the extended. Not really warming up again until the end of the work week:

Extended AM

This is the first high-impact ice event we’ve had since Superbowl week three winters ago. We won’t be that cold (that’s the last time DFW recorded lows in the teens) but the event is similar on how travel impacts will linger:

brutal cold3

By the way, this cold has covered almost the whole country. So has the snow. This is the most snow cover over the U.S. in December we’ve had since 2003: