Commuters can expect chilly temperatures, snow flurries and icy streets this morning after a snowstorm that walloped the El Paso-Juárez region on Thursday.
The winter storm is expected to leave by this afternoon after dropping more than 2 inches of snow on El Paso, shutting down schools, businesses and government offices and causing icy havoc on roads in the region.
By Thursday night, the National Weather Service in Santa Teresa had received reports of up to 3 inches of snow in parts of Northeast El Paso, and 2.6 inches of snow at El Paso International Airport.
Meteorologist Tim Brice said snow flurries are expected this morning but the snow is not expected to stick.
"It will still be cold, but the sun is expected to break through the clouds in the afternoon," Brice said.
Several companies, government offices and school districts planned to open later than normal today to avoid hazardous early-morning roads.
The University of Texas at El Paso and the El Paso and Ysleta school districts will have a two-hour delay in opening at 10 a.m. today. Classes are not in session, but teachers and other staff are scheduled to report.
The Socorro school district will have a delayed start at 8 a.m. today. Employees will be notified by their supervisor of any other changes.
Because of weather, the city of El Paso canceled its recycle pickup services today and all Municipal Court sessions this morning.
In Juárez, the U.S. Consulate said appointments scheduled for today can be changed to Monday by calling the consulate.
On Thursday night, some highways outside of El Paso were shut down because of heavy snow, accidents and dangerously slick roads.
The Texas Department of Transportation shut down Interstate 10 east of El Paso between Fort Hancock and Van Horn.
The Texas Department of Transportation also closed Montana Avenue from Hueco Tanks to the Texas-New Mexico state line.
In Central El Paso, police Thursday evening were dealing with an accident involving a police officer hit by a car while directing traffic on I-10 East near Cotton Street, according to emergency radio transmissions.
Channel 14-KFOX reported that the officer was taken to University Medical Center with injuries that were not considered life threatening. Police spokesmen did not return calls for information.
TxDOT and police on Thursday night closed parts of the Spaghetti Bowl and I-10 East near Cotton Street and near Executive Center because of icy bridges.
The storm was the first of the new year in the Sun City, and officials said it caused few major problems, possibly because many El Pasoans were still on holiday break.
Authorities reported several traffic crashes and hazardous roads when El Paso was hit by snow showers Thursday morning and then again after nightfall.
On Thursday morning, El Paso police closed a section of the Spaghetti Bowl after 20 vehicles were reportedly stuck on the ramp heading toward U.S. 54. Cars were also reportedly sliding on the topmost ramp of the Spaghetti Bowl.
Officials said the number of traffic accidents could have been worse.
"Probably because everyone is still on break for the holidays, that helped a lot," said El Paso Fire Department spokesman George De La Torre.
Most businesses and offices, including City Hall, the County Courthouse and Fort Bliss closed early so employees could have more time to get home safely.
Cathedral High School was set to begin its spring semester on Thursday but closed because of the snow.
Scenic Drive and Trans Mountain Road also were closed Thursday.
Transportation officials said Trans Mountain would remain closed until at least 5 a.m. today.
The weather delayed a few flights coming in and out of El Paso International Airport.
"We are seeing some delays, but the flights are getting in and out," airport spokeswoman Liz Bellegarde said.
Some flight cancellations or delays were up to the airlines, but the airport had the runways cleared and working, Bellegarde said.
Travelers can check online at elpasointernationalairport. com or call their airline to check flight status ahead of time.
Many El Paso-area residents took the time to enjoy the view of the Franklin Mountains covered in snow and snowy desert landscapes while children made snow angels and build snowmen. Snow-day photos can be shared on elpasotimes.com.
Horizon City resident Victor Lira, 32, said his three children were able to enjoy snow for the first time.
"It was basically all my kids' first time in the snow. We lived in South Texas before," Lira said. "They had fun throwing snowballs and building snowmen."
Lira said he and his family also went out on the roadways, and road conditions weren't as bad as many people feared.
"I've lived in Colorado where the snow was worse," Lira said.
Adriana M. Chávez may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6117. Follow her on Twitter @AChavezEPTimes Aaron Bracamontes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6156. Follow him on Twitter @AaronBracTimes. Reporter Daniel Borunda contributed to this story.