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Why 1,000 flights canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth airport (+video)

Snow followed by freezing rain hit parts of Texas and Oklahoma, forcing about 1,000 flight cancellations at Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Saturday and 600 on Friday.

Freezing rain that coated parts of Texas and Oklahoma for the second consecutive day left highways slick and forced the cancellation of another 1,000 flights Saturday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the nation's biggest airline hubs.

The Saturday chaos was on top of about 600 flights nixed Friday, forcing about 5,000 travelers to spend the night at the airport, spokesman David Magana said. The airport provided cots, blankets and toiletries to the passengers, plus kept concession stands open overnight, Magana said.

One American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Oklahoma City that typically takes less than an hour ended up being a nine-hour journey for some passengers, the airline said.

"We apologize for the frustrating experience," American spokesman Matt Miller said. The period of time that the jet was delayed on the tarmac waiting did not exceed three hours, he said.

The flight, with 110 passengers and five crewmembers, pushed away from the gate around 1:45 p.m. Friday but returned to the terminal amid de-icing delays, Miller said. Passengers were allowed to exit, remaining in the gate area while crews also dealt with an air conditioning issue on board.

Some passengers opted to stay on the jet, Miller said. Another flight crew also had to be assigned to the flight because of the length of the delay and federal regulations on how long crews can be on duty, he said.

The flight took off at around 10:45 p.m., Miller said.

Transportation officials and the National Weather Service warned travelers to stay off the roads Saturday until temperatures rise and the ice melts.

Temperatures aren't expected to rise above freezing until after 2 or 3 pm Saturday.

“Stay home if you can,” Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s going to be very bad out there for a while. Fortunately it’s a weekend. But the roads are slick. Even the sidewalks. It’s tough to even walk, much less drive.”

The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for the Dallas-Fort Worth area until Saturday night.

Freezing rain coated an area stretching from about 40 miles north of Austin up to the Dallas area, said Anthony Bain, a weather service forecaster based in Fort Worth.

"If you don't need to travel, just stay home," Bain said. Temperatures were expected above freezing by late Saturday afternoon, and into the upper 40s on Sunday, Bain said.

Flight tracker Flightaware.com showed 974 flights canceled by late Saturday morning at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

The Weather Underground reports:

An onshore flow from the Gulf of Mexico will push a moist air mass across the central third of the country. A mixture of freezing rain and snow will affect portions of Texas, Oklahoma, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, northern Kentucky and southwest Ohio. Locally heavy snow showers are forecast to develop across eastern Kansas, southeast Nebraska, northern Missouri, southern Iowa, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. The northern Plains will stay mostly clear of precipitation on Saturday. 

Dallas area temperatures are expected in the upper 40s Sunday.

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