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Dallas weather as unforgiving as Steelers' D

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011

DALLAS — Bitter winds and heavy snow are stealing some sparkle from the Super Bowl party scene as fans and stars alike scramble to deal with unexpected winter weather.

But the crazy weather Friday that grounded flights and caused ice to fall from the roof of Cowboys Stadium — injuring seven workers — couldn't stop the show. And promoters weren't worried about filling clubs for the A-listers in town ahead of Super Bowl XLV.

Partiers just might want to leave their stilettos at home.

"I'm wearing moon boots, and I'm not going to take them off tonight. I don't even care," said Lauren Gnazzo, a North Allegheny High School graduate who lives in Miami. Gnazzo, 27, helped organize the Dallas SuperBash 2011 presented by Willis & Woy Sports Group at the Fashion Industry Gallery. Pamela Anderson is the hostess, and a slew of other Playboy models, rappers and actors R.S.V.P.'d to attend.

Mercifully, most of the snow stopped by 1 p.m. Many flights arrived slightly delayed or on time at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, removing early morning fears that fans, celebrities and Super Bowl ticket holders might not arrive until today.

A day of digging out from the snow wasn't without incident.

Officials shut down all but one entrance to the stadium after ice slid from the roof about 1:30 p.m. CST. Of the seven people injured, five drove to hospitals on their own. Paramedics took two workers, one with a concussion and one with a shoulder injury.

An Arlington police officer said the ice slid off the roof faster than he could turn around to see the source of the sudden noise. It sounded like a huge ocean wave crashing on the shore, he said.

Football fans milling around the stadium were generally unaware of the incident three hours after it happened. Some dressed in Steelers or Packers winter coats snapped photos of the stadium as three helicopters hovered overhead, including one painted in Cowboys blue and silver.

The falling ice chunks might have torn a panel off a huge banner on the north side of the stadium featuring Hines Ward and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Elsewhere, roads remained treacherous as road crews began using salt instead of the sand-salt mixture they normally employ.

After landing on time at DFW, Alexis Pierce, 36, of Mt. Washington drove at 40 mph on a 70-mph highway to reach her hotel. She plans to attend the game with her fiance.

She said one runway was open. Passengers on her flight pressed their foreheads against the windows of the plane, gazing in amazement that a couple "inches of snow shut down the entire city."

Former Pittsburgh Public Works Director Guy Costa is willing to lend a hand. Costa, 55, of Squirrel Hill has tickets to the Super Bowl. He arrived yesterday on a direct Delta flight with no delays.

"I still have my license to drive a plow truck. If you know anyone that needs help with snow removal, I'm available," he said.

An upside to the bad weather: Lines are small or nonexistent behind the velvet ropes at Zouk Nightclub where parties — featuring a performance by rapper Snoop Dogg tonight — were scheduled Tuesday through Sunday.

Instead of waiting in the cold, partiers were darting inside from their cars.

"Instead of the usual line of 100 or 200 waiting to get into the door, they're trickling in," said spokeswoman Teresa Nguyen. "I was just surprised so many people were still coming out."

Contingency plans to handle a major snowfall were created in the four-year runup to hosting the Super Bowl, said Tony Fay, spokesman for the North Texas Host Committee.

Plus, there was a little test run last year. The Dallas area received a record-setting 9.8 inches of snow days before Cowboys Stadium hosted the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 14. The event packed the stadium with 108,000 fans, the most to watch an NBA game, Fay said.

"We knew something could happen," Fay said about the Super Bowl, noting the committee brought in trucks from out of state and acquired extra sand to put on icy roads.

Temperatures are predicted to reach 42 degrees today, but drop to 31 degrees tonight and rise to 43 Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.




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