- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Ice-glazed roads caused dozens of wrecks Tuesday as a line of moisture combined with frigid temperatures put normally balmy Central and Southeast Texas in the deep freeze for the second time in less than a week.

The most severe traffic problems appeared to be in the Austin area, where elevated decks of Interstate 35 and some flyover ramps were closed. Police reported more than 150 traffic wrecks throughout the area.

The University of Texas and other school districts delayed opening or shut for the entire day.

The freezing rain extended from west and north of San Antonio to Temple, across Bryan-College Station and Huntsville and east to Louisiana. A trace of snow was reported in Waco.

Jane Young, an 80-year-old pastor’s wife, was driving in an unfamiliar corner of Austin before dawn when sleet began falling.

“As I drove, I prayed the whole way,” she said. “I said, ‘Lord, put your hands on mine and guide me. This is your car now.’”

She made it to her destination, a polling station where she was volunteering during a special election to fill a vacant Texas House seat.

“It was just so scary,” she said.

Austin-area officials meeting about 3 a.m. were told icy conditions would not be bad, emergency management spokesman Jacob Dirr said. However, that changed after daybreak when it became obvious conditions had deteriorated.

By then, some children in districts outside Austin already were on school buses while some teachers and principals were reporting they couldn’t get out of their homes because of ice, prompting officials to reverse earlier decisions and close or delay openings at the last minute.

“I feel terrible about the way it played out,” Leander Superintendent Bret Champion told the Austin American-Statesman. “That put parents in bad spots after sending their kids on the bus. It made it look like we weren’t paying attention, when we were hyper-paying attention.

“I would never have put kids on the road if I had known.”

In Houston, freezing rain caused minimal difficulties and traffic was light. Most schools and city and county offices throughout the area were closed. The Texas Department of Transportation sent sanding trucks to overpasses where ice was reported.

Last Friday, a similar storm that also brought snowfall to some places was blamed for hundreds of traffic accidents in far wider area of Central and South Texas.

“It’s not as bad as we projected,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. “But the schools, I think, were pretty smart and canceled classes.”

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