Texas Snow and Ice Complicate Travel for Super Bowl Attendees

The winter storm that paralyzed the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a coating of snow and ice has so far had minimal impact on plans for the Super Bowl, regional officials said yesterday.

“Will everyone who wanted to come here make it? No,” Bill Lively, president of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, said in a telephone interview. “But most will get here, I’m certain.”

Airlines have been rearranging schedules to accommodate Super Bowl travelers stranded by winter storms across the U.S. on their way to see the National Football League’s title game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Local road crews in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have been sanding streets and freeways that were covered with an inch of ice three days ago and remain slick in temperatures not expected to climb above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius) until tomorrow.

“The freeways are moving at 50 miles per hour, major thoroughfares are improving and will only be getting better as we warm up,” Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said in a phone interview yesterday.

Extra road crews were brought in from other North Texas cities, including Abilene and Lubbock, to help clear streets in advance of hundreds of events and parties connected to the Super Bowl.

Collapsing Tents

“We see what’s on the schedule and work on those streets,” Morris said.

Only a handful of Super Bowl activities had been canceled through yesterday, said Tony Fay, spokesman for the regional Super Bowl host committee. “We had player visits to local schools canceled because the schools were closed,” he said.

The sleet and snow collapsed tents in Dallas’s Cotton Bowl stadium that had been pitched to house three nights of Super Bowl-related concerts. The concerts were moved to indoor locations. An NFL Alumni Association golf tournament also was recast as an indoor event, said Marty Lerch, the event’s organizer.

Morris, who put together the transportation plan for the host committee, said nearly all the 150,000 expected visitors will arrive on commercial flights, by charter or private jet.

“They’re not driving in or taking a bus,” he said.

Adding Flights

Tim Smith, spokesman for American Airlines, which runs the most flights from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, said the majority of the airline’s flights between Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth were operating yesterday.

“So that’s a good thing,” he said. “The busiest days related to the Sunday game are Friday and Saturday.”

Extra American flights to Dallas were added yesterday to make up for weather cancellations in Chicago the two previous days, Smith said. Those are in addition to 12 extra flights previously added to the schedule to fly fans to the game today from Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Chicago.

The forecast for more snow in Texas could further complicate travel. Jason Dunn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said another front was expected to give the area one to two inches of snow today.

“The storm we’re looking at now is the one in the south hitting Houston,” said Brad Hawkins, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, colliding with cold air from the north, covered the coastal city in a rare blanket of snow and ice yesterday.

More Delays Possible

The storm system may require Southwest to redirect passengers bound for Dallas Love Field through cities such as Kansas City or Little Rock, Hawkins said. Southwest also has added more flights from Milwaukee and Pittsburgh to handle Super Bowl traffic, he said.

The foul weather so far has not hurt hotel bookings at the more than 120 hotels and motels represented by the Hotel Association of Tarrant County in Fort Worth, said the group’s executive director, Julie Faver-Dylla. She said she hadn’t heard of reservations being canceled.

“We’re completely sold out in Fort Worth and people are still calling the Arlington convention bureau looking for rooms,” she said.

The National Weather Service forecast for Dallas tomorrow is for a sunny sky and a high of 45 degrees. The game-day forecast is for sun and a high of 49 degrees.

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