Bad weather plays havoc with Super Bowl week

Steelers fan Albert Martinez walks along a snow-covered sidewalk in Fort Worth.
(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

DALLAS – When her team clinched a spot in Super Bowl XLV, Pittsburgh resident Karen Angelilli immediately checked her family’s travel plans to Texas.

“I called my son to see if our hotel had a pool,” she said.

Heading to the South, she hoped, might give her a chance to go swimming outdoors.

“But I was in for a big surprise,” the Pittsburgh Steelers fan said after arriving in Texas.

Dallas’ coldest weather in two decades has brought many unwelcome surprises to Super Bowl week. North Texas was caked in ice on Tuesday and will spend more than 100 hours below freezing before a brief warm-up on Saturday. The average temperature is usually 30 to 40 degrees warmer.

Many had thought the worst was over until Friday morning, when the area woke to six inches of snow on the ground.

“It is absolutely rare,” said Brad Barton, a longtime Dallas radio meteorologist. “It has all conspired to make this a miserable, miserable week. I fear that there are people holding tickets to this game who can’t even get to town.”

Both Dallas airports were reporting cancelations and delays Friday morning. Some roads across the state were being closed because of treacherous travel.

After Friday’s snowfall, Twitter users were sending messages about it being difficult to get a taxi in Dallas.

June Colgrove, a veteran cab dispatcher, said the extra visitors and frozen streets were indeed creating a backup. One of her drivers had an accident Friday morning and another spent an hour on a trip which normally would have taken 25 minutes.

“It is taking a long time for drivers to get from one place to the next,” Colgrove said. “They are sliding all over the place.”

The Angelilli family made it in from Pittsburgh on Wednesday. With temperatures in the teens on Thursday, they spent a lot of their afternoon indoors at the NFL Experience in Dallas.

“It is way less crowded than we thought it would be,” said Karen Angelilli, a veteran of four Super Bowls. “They [the local businesses] are losing money big time.”

The cold wasn’t tempering Green Bay Packers fan Jose Patrick’s spirit.

“Never,” said Patrick, who said he was prepared to drive from his home in Monterrey, Mexico, if his flight had been canceled.

That wasn’t necessary. Patrick was posing for pictures in his new cheesehead hat Thursday evening.

“This has been great,” he said. “We already have tickets to the ESPN tailgate party and might go to Pam Anderson’s party too.”

The Texas Department of Transportation was bringing in additional sand trucks and snow plows to help clear roads for visitors to make those parties.

Packers fan Cletus Derwae had dinner Wednesday night at a restaurant where LaDainian Tomlinson’s(notes) Purple Reign fundraiser was being held.

“It was kind of sad because only 100 to 150 people showed up,” he said. “They were hoping for 500 to 600.”

John Bonaparte had planned for his family to spend two days this week at Super Bowl events. They made it to the outdoor activities in downtown Fort Worth on Thursday, but retreated back to Dallas for the indoor NFL Experience.

“It was just so cold,” said Bonaparte, a former Pittsburgh resident now living north of Dallas.

Barton, the meteorologist, was predicting temperatures in the 40s on Saturday but said another cold front headed for Texas could bring temperatures back to the 30s with a stout north wind by kickoff on Sunday.

“We really didn’t put our best foot forward in terms of hosting a Super Bowl,” he said. “But you can’t put weather in a box.”

Late Friday afternoon, the Super Bowl’s host committee issued a statement saying that North Texas airports were ready for incoming passengers.

“Weather in the area has improved, and the prospect for a full schedule of airline arrivals and departures remains in place for tonight and the remainder of Super Bowl weekend,” officials said in the statement. “While airlines at DFW have cancelled about 300 departures today as a result of the winter weather system moving across the country, DFW and the other airports in the region still have the capacity to handle all arriving flights to the region.”


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Updated Friday, Feb 4, 2011