Super Bowl: Dallas weather complicates plans for fans, business owners

It's been a tough pre-Super Bowl week in Dallas, with snow and ice piling up on and around Cowboy Stadium, where six workers were hurt by falling ice Friday. (Feb. 4)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2011; 12:52 AM

DALLAS - An overnight snowstorm brought air and ground traffic to a near standstill in the Dallas area Friday, frustrating thousands of fans trying to get into town for Sunday's Super Bowl and leaving many local business owners cursing their misfortune two days before the National Football League's annual showcase event.

"It's one thing that it snows and we have the ice," said Vance Martin, the owner of Lili's Bistro in Fort Worth. "But it's another when it happens in this part of the country. We don't handle it well. We don't drive well. We don't anticipate it well, and we just don't get out on it. It just has a stifling effect on the entire Metroplex."

The overnight storm was only the latest to hit the Dallas region this week. The ice, snow and a run of uncharacteristically sub-freezing temperatures forced the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers to move their practices indoors; some Super Bowl-related events were moved under cover as well.

On Friday, the streets of Dallas, which had not been completely cleared of ice and snow from storms earlier in the week, were covered by a fresh layer of snow that brought traffic to a crawl. Nearly 900 flights into and out of the Dallas area were canceled, according to the flight-tracking service, FlightAware, and disruptions in air travel continued into the evening. Snowfall totals in the region ranged from two to eight inches.

Forecasts were for a possible mix of rain and snow on Sunday, with the high temperature about 41. Not that it would really matter. The retractable roof at Cowboys Stadium, the palatial $1.3 billion stadium that opened less than two years ago in nearby Arlington, is to be closed for the game.

"The stadium still has a roof on it," said Bill Lively, the president and chief executive of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV host committee. "We had great plans. We just have to execute them as well as we can. I saw the sun a few minutes ago and we all celebrated for 15 seconds."

Six people were injured Friday by falling ice and snow at the stadium, officials said. An NFL spokesman said the league had no details about who the people were or what they were doing. The Dallas Morning News reported that those injured were taken to local hospitals and two were listed as stable while the other four suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

More than 90,000 people are expected to attend the game, with thousands of others expected to watch on video boards outside the stadium. An estimated 106.5 million television viewers watched last year's Super Bowl held in Miami between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.

While many Steelers and Packers fans were already in town, the storm disrupted the travel plans of countless others heading to Dallas for the game.

Dallas Love Field Airport saw no commercial flights until Friday afternoon. Crews at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were able to keep the runways open, but de-icing every plane kept all morning flights grounded.

Airport officials were hopeful the weather will allow a full schedule of flights this weekend. "Yesterday, today and tomorrow are the biggest arrival days for expected Super Bowl traffic," said David Magana, a spokesman for DFW Airport, "and we expect to handle about 40 additional charter airliners, about 40 added airline segments, and a healthy supply of corporate aircraft at our new DFW Corporate Aviation facilty."

In Pittsburgh, Susan Satira was traveling on a flight scheduled for 7 a.m., headed to her first Super Bowl with her husband, her father and her father's girlfriend. They arrived at the airport around 5 a.m., and were still waiting to leave Pittsburgh just after noon.

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