Getting back to the work week was less than a breeze for Texoma drivers Monday morning. The cold wind blew in icy conditions made the commute hazardous. In Wichita Falls alone, 17 accidents were reported. Several accidents happened on the freeways, slowing lanes of traffic. A GMC Yukon SUV rolled-over and crashed into several pickups on the Sullivan Toyota lot. "We woke up this morning and did find that maybe people were driving a bit too fast for the conditions. Some people tend to put their brakes on when they get on a bridge or overpass," said Adele Lewis, TxDOT Wichita Falls Public Information Officer.
Among the wind, ice, snow and commuters were Texas Department of Transportation crews. "We spent all night and all of this morning prepping the bridges - putting down freezguard in anticipation of any more precipitation as well as putting down de-icing stone for traction in some locations," said Lewis. Crews scaled-back operations during the afternoon, but around 4:45 p.m. the decision was made to bring in the night shift to battle more snow and ice. Crews are working on 12-hour shifts to fight the big chill.
In addition to monitoring and working on road surfaces, TxDOT workers will be looking out for drivers on the roads of Texoma. "We are going to go into a courtesy patrol mode … Whenever the temperature dips down into the teens we like to run courtesy patrols," said Lewis.
The patrols will monitor state-maintained highways including I-44, Hwy 287 and US 82. The Wichita Falls Office crews will patrol all over the area. "They will be looking for stranded motorists, people with problems - they have cell phones with them, they can help change a tire, sometimes they have a couple gallons of gas to get you to the next exit. So, courtesy patrols will be running to make sure that nobody is stranded in their car at night," Lewis explained.
Lewis offers some advice for drivers tonight. Number one – "Slow down!" Also, 'Your head lights need to be on. You need to make sure you are operating a car that is in good shape with good brakes and good tires on it and also that you are mentally prepared to be able to drive in those conditions," she said.
With precipitation coming to a halt, the biggest meteorological conundrum into the evening will be the frigid temperatures. Skywarn 6 continues to track the big chill, for the very latest you can check out the weather page, or tune-in to Newschannel 6.