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Houston, San Antonio, Austin under winter advisory

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

Upper decks of Interstate 35 and some flyover ramps in Austin were closed. Police reported more than 150 traffic wrecks in Austin after 5 a.m.

The University of Texas at Austin, along with several state offices and other school districts, delayed opening until noon. Others closed for the day.

In Houston, there were only scattered reports of freezing rain 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.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas until midday. That was an improvement from the winter storm warning that had been issued for Houston. The warning remained in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday for far Southeast Texas, including Beaumont, where authorities closed about a half dozen traffic bridges in anticipation of treacherous conditions.

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights at Houston's Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports.

"It's a bummer when it happens to you and you are delayed a whole day," said C.J. Ochoa, 20, of Midland, who was stranded at Bush Airport after a vacation in Hawaii.

He told the Houston Chronicle he was considering taking a bus home.

"I need to get back home and get back to work," he said.

The freezing rain expected to end by early afternoon, and temperatures could climb above freezing before a hard freeze Tuesday night, forecasters said. Highs were expected to reach into the 70s by later in the week.

The worst of the weather appeared to be east of Texas and into Louisiana, where a couple inches of snow were possible through early Wednesday along the Interstate 10 corridor.

In Austin, the school closures threw a special election for a seat in the state legislature in confusion, since many polling places were in the schools. Travis County officials said they were searching for alternative locations for voters.

 

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