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Storm snarls travel; power outages persist

December 10, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Snow and bitter cold snarled traffic and prompted another 1,650 U.S. flight cancellations on Monday, and tens of thousands of people were still without power after January-like weather barged in a month early.

The storm covered parts of North Texas in ice over the weekend and then moved East. Below-zero Fahrenheit temperatures crowned the top of the U.S. from Idaho to Minnesota, where many roads still had an inch (2.5-centimeter)-thick plate of ice, polished smooth by traffic and impervious to ice-melting chemicals, making intersections an adventure.

Many travelers wished they were home, and people in homes without power wished they were somewhere else.

Some of the most difficult conditions were in North Texas. More than 22,000 Dallas-area homes and businesses were still without power on Monday, according to electric utility Oncor. That was down from 270,000 on Friday. Dallas students got the day off from school.

More than half of the U.S. flight cancellations on Monday were at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, dominated by American Airlines. About 650 travelers were stranded there Sunday night.

Nationally, there have been more than 6,100 flight cancellations since Saturday, according to FlightStats.com, including more than 2,800 by American or its American Eagle regional airline. American emerged from bankruptcy protection and merged with US Airways on Monday.

Half of the high school band from Norman, Oklahoma, landed at Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday after playing in a Pearl Harbor Day parade in Hawaii. But the flight for the other half of the band was canceled because of the ice, leaving them stranded for an extra day in Hawaii.

“Tough break for them, huh?” joked parent chaperone Tami Meyer.

The storm dumped snow through the Mid-Atlantic region. Freezing rain prompted the federal government to allow workers to arrive up to two hours later than normal Monday or take unscheduled leave.

Power outages were reported in Virginia, parts of West Virginia, Maryland and the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area following freezing rain, wet snow and sleet. More than 15,000 customers in Maryland were without power, where the weight of the ice weakened tree limbs that then contacted power lines and other equipment. Some 109,000 customers were without power in Virginia.

Parts of northwest and southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia got snow, while sleet and freezing rain prevailed west and north of Richmond.

The area is in for more wintry weather. The National Weather Service predicted a second storm for the Mid-Atlantic region, with five inches (12.5 centimeters) of snow possible Monday night.

At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, more than 100 flights were canceled, according to FlightStats.com, and crowds were sparse Monday morning as travelers made alternate plans.

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Contributors to this report included: Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Dan Gelston in Philadelphia, Steve Szkotak in Richmond, Virginia, Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia, Jessica Gresko and Ben Nuckols in Washington, Samantha Henry in Newark, New Jersey, Diana Heidgerd in Dallas and David Koenig in Fort Worth, Texas.

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