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December 11, 2013

Editor stranded in ice storm experiences truest form of humanity


The last week brought horrors in the form of winter weather to Oklahoma and Texas. Snow and ice covered more than 300 miles of land and left many stranded in terrifying situations, and I was one such person. 

A foolish drive left me alone with my car stuck on a steep hill of a back road, covered in ice with temperatures falling into the low 20s. But as is the case with any horror story, heroes emerged to aid the helpless.

I began driving from Oklahoma City at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. My goal was to reach Rockwall, Texas, before dark. I make this roughly 225-mile drive on a regular basis as my family lives there. On average, it takes about 3 hours 15 minutes to complete, but this time it took more than eight times that.

Oklahoma was easy enough. Interstate 35 was drivable and traffic was free-flowing from Ardmore into Texas. I crossed the Red River thinking this trip would be no different from any other when I noticed the great state divider was frozen solid.

This seemed like an ominous warning, but I continued forward. I was no more than five miles into the Lone Star State when the roads turned to pure ice. What has been deemed cobblestone ice forced traffic to a crawl and bounced cars all over the highway. Every passing mile was accompanied by a holocaust of vehicles, abandoned by their drivers.

Texas Highway Patrol shutdown IH-35 about 30 miles into the state. I was forced to find an alternate route, which led me to Highway 82 that travels east-to-west along the Red River counties of Texas.

I made it a mile past Whitesboro when I was forced to turn around. A jackknifed semi-truck blocked a bridge half of a mile up the road making it impassable.

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