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Snow, Ice Close Schools in Parts of South

February 25, 2003

Layers of ice on highways and up to 13 inches of snow closed schools and stranded travelers Tuesday on the southern Plains and across parts of the South.

Airlines canceled dozens of flights and some highways were closed by slippery pavement and numerous accidents in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.

No deaths had been reported.

Overnight temperatures were only in the high teens across North Texas and Tuesday’s daytime highs were not expected to rise above the middle 20s.

As the storm moved eastward and tapered off, light snow and sleet also made roads slippery and closed schools in northern sections of Mississippi and Alabama, and parts of Tennessee.

``I’m sick of winter. I’m going to go kill the groundhog,″ said Carla Gaster, with the Boy Scouts of America Service Center in Nashville, Tenn., which got about an inch of snow. The city has received 14.6 inches of snow this year, double the normal amount, the National Weather Service said.

The heaviest snowfall was in Arkansas, where 13 inches fell at Mount Ida in the Ouachita Mountains, the weather service said. Numerous motorists were reported stranded, with law officers taking some to motels or to the sheriff’s department. Many roads in Garland and Montgomery counties were impassable, police said.

More than half of Arkansas’ 310 school districts called off classes Tuesday, giving thousands of youngsters the day off to play in the snow.

``They were jumping up and woke up the whole house,″ Bud Kanatzar of Little Rock said of his three children. ``There are a thousand kid prints in the front yard. Even the dog’s been out.″

Some major highways in Arkansas were closed, including parts of busy Interstate 40, where dispatchers said tractor-trailer rigs jackknifed on a hill between Morgan and Mayflower.

Texas highway crews worked through the night to salt and sand overpasses and bridges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where a coating of ice from sleet and freezing rain closed some freeways late Monday. Up to 5 inches of sleet was possible north of metropolitan area. Ice also closed stretches of I-10 in the Texas Hill Country between Kerrville and San Antonio, said Mark Cross, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, American Airlines canceled about 220 morning flights and more were expected throughout the day, airline spokesman John Hotard said. Delta canceled 27 morning departures, airport spokesman Ken Capps said.

About 2,500 travelers had to spend the night at American terminals because deicing crews couldn’t keep up with the freezing precipitation, Hotard said.

Up to 8 inches of snow fell overnight in southeastern Oklahoma, shutting schools, and U.S. 259 between Broken Bow and Big Cedar was closed late Monday and remained shut down Tuesday.

More freezing precipitation was forecast late Tuesday and into Wednesday, and again on Friday, the National Weather Service said.

``We are looking at pretty much any day this week there could be some type of wintry precipitation,″ said Kenneth James, a weather service meteorologist in Oklahoma.

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