Ice storm hits parts of Texas, canceling flights, crippling traffic

DALLAS (Reuters) - An ice storm battered parts of Texas on Monday, cutting off power to thousands of homes and leading to hundreds of traffic accidents and more than 1,500 airline flight cancellations.

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The storm, packing high winds and freezing rain, coated highways with sheets of ice, and authorities advised commuters to stay off the roads. The cold was expected to last another day, keeping road surfaces slick.

Snow and freezing rain fell in parts of New Mexico and Colorado, while Utah and northern Arizona were also under winter storm warnings, the weather service said.

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the busiest in the United States and a hub for American Airlines, nearly 1,100 flights were canceled by Monday afternoon, according to tracking service

At Love Field in Dallas, a major airport for Southwest Airlines, more than 100 flights were canceled, it said.

On Monday night, an American Airlines plane slid off a taxiway at Dallas/Fort Worth due to the icy conditions, though none of the 63 passengers or five crew members aboard were injured, an airline spokeswoman said.

In Tennessee, at least 22 people have been killed in the past few days because of icy winter conditions, the state’s Emergency Management Agency said.

Eleven people have died in Kentucky from the snow and ice that began pummeling the state on Feb. 16, officials said.

In Colorado, an avalanche killed a skier outside the boundaries of the Aspen Mountain resort on Monday, marking the season’s fifth fatality from a snowslide, authorities said.

Texas schools were closed on Monday around Dallas and Fort Worth, amid thin traffic on highways. Iced-over trees knocked down power lines, leaving thousands without electricity, officials said. Texas police reported hundreds of car accidents.

BreeAnna Moore, 27, skipped driving to work in Fort Worth after watching live traffic camera footage.

“I really can’t afford to miss a day, but then again I don’t think it’s worth my life or my car trying to make it in,” she said.

The trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle, the former U.S. Navy SEAL who was the subject of the movie “American Sniper,” was postponed on Monday because of ice in the Texas city of Stephenville, southwest of Fort Worth.

Salt trucks were deployed in Oklahoma, where roads were covered in about an inch of ice and snow.

Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City, Steve Barnes in Little Rock, Lisa Bose McDermott in Texarkana, Arkansas, Keith Coffman in Denver, and Marice Richter in Dallas; Editing by Susan Heavey, Andrew Hay, Peter Cooney and Clarence Fernandez