The National Weather Service in Fort Worth predicts increasingly dangerous conditions for the winter storm over the weekend. A Saturday afternoon warning indicated that the Denton area could receive over 4 inches of snow and life-threatening wind chill.
According to a NWS forecast for Saturday afternoon, Sunday has an 80% probability of precipitation during the day, which increases to 90% at night. NWS meteorologist Allison Prater said a wintry mix will develop late Saturday night and turn into snow by Sunday morning. That snow was supposed to end on Monday afternoon.
Temperatures will drop well below freezing, with Sunday dropping to 14 degrees by 5 p.m. and dropping to 4 degrees by Sunday evening. The Monday high is also projected at 14 degrees, with a low of 1 degree on Monday evening. In addition, the Sunday night could bring negative values for the wind cold of up to -15 degrees.
In a winter storm warning from the NWS, the temperatures are described as “life-threatening for people and animals outdoors without adequate warmth or protection”. It also says that traveling “late Sunday through Monday could be very difficult, if not impossible”. Prater said the NWS discourages travel and is generally outside unless absolutely necessary.
“Hypothermia could start extremely soon at temperatures like this,” said Prater. “We would advise people not to go outside. Stay in and out when you can. “
Denton is preparing several measures to combat the dangerous conditions, according to an email to city council members.
“The city will have trucks ready to move sand on icy roads and adequate personnel for possible power outages or water pipe breaks,” the email said. “Employees will be evaluating conditions throughout the weekend and making decisions about service changes or closings on or before early Monday morning.”
The city announced on Saturday that the Denton Civic Center will be a 24-hour thermal center from Sunday noon. According to a press release, it is “available to anyone in need of refuge from the weather, including stranded motorists, residents who have lost vital services in their homes, or people who have become homeless”.
The city has also opened the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center as a warming station, available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and until 5 p.m. on weekends. The North Lakes Recreation Center will also serve as a thermal center from Saturday through Wednesday with identical weekday and weekend hours.
Preparations for the conditions are also being made at the district level. Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Gildersleeve said Friday that the majority of road maintenance will be in the cities, but Denton County will assist in areas classified as particularly dangerous by public safety officials.
“We have limited county-level snow removal equipment,” said Gildersleeve. “We are primarily assigned to deal with trouble spots. We’re not going to plow every road – we don’t have the equipment or the manpower. “
Gildersleeve added that the county lacks the resources to pre-treat roads, which means it needs a reactionary response to travel conditions.
A NWS graphic on Saturday afternoon gives the DFW Metroplex a 97% chance to get at least 1 inch of snow, an 80% chance to get at least 2 inches, and a 50% chance to get at least 4 inches. For current forecasts for Denton and the surrounding area, visit http://forecast.weather.gov.