Ice along the Texas Gulf coast is not unknown, but it is a rarity to accumulate more than a thin ice coating, mainly on bridges and overpasses. Usually when that icing does occur it happening in the early morning hours and the common practice is simply to let it melt as the sun rises and heats up the roadways enough to raise the temperature above freezing to melt that ice and end the slippery conditions. On January 13, 1997 an ice storm glazed the Houston, TX area as well as parts of Louisiana. This time, temperatures were not just a degree of two below freezing but rather in the mid 20’s, so 1/2” thick ice formed from Beaumont, TX to Lake Charles, LA. The normal method of simply letting the ice melt would not work unless those in the region waited for several days. With little salt on hand, like the stockpiles in the northern states, the local highway departments needed to improvise using road graders and front loaders to dump gravel used in road construction and cinders from local incinerators to cover the highways to allow motorists to gain traction.
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