Plastic sleds, pool toys and skateboards without wheels could be seen speedily descending several hills at Temple’s Lions Park Monday morning followed by laughter.

Families and individuals came out to take advantage of what remaining snow they could before the still-rising Texas sun could melt too much of it away.

“They loved (the snow) so we have been just trying to take advantage of it as much as we can before they get too cold and hands get numb,” Warren Gray, a Temple resident, said about his two kids. “We went out into our yard early yesterday morning, trying to do whatever we could, not knowing how much we would have.” 

Warren, along with his wife Ashley and kids Eisley, 9, and Banner, 5, were out at the park Monday morning taking turns sledding down a small hill.

The children used small circular sleds the family purchased when they went sledding on the sand dunes of White Sands, New Mexico. Warren said he had not expected the sleds to come in handy here in Texas for snow.

Temple resident Shalena Cuthbertson said she was happy to have something to do outside, after being kept inside due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Shalena was at Lions Park with her daughters Kyra, 3, and Jayda, 9, who were both seeing a large amount of snow for the first time. She said most years when there is snow it tends to be very little and disappear too quickly.

“It is the first time (they have) ever done sledding or anything more than a miniature snowman,” Shalena said. “The baby woke up this morning trying to put a coat on to go outside and play again.”

Accidents and serious injuries

The icy weather had a dark side as well.

Temple Police Department spokesman Cody Weems said the city had seen about 70 calls on Sunday and Monday about traffic accidents in the city. Sunday saw 30 accidents while the first half of Monday already saw 40.

Weems said that while he is not able to tell the cause of the accidents and find if they were caused by the weather, the number of traffic accidents in the past two days were, “significantly higher than average.”

One of the traffic accidents included a Temple Fire & Rescue truck, which was damaged at about 4:30 a.m. early Monday morning when it was struck by a vehicle that lost control on Interstate 35.

Crew members from Ladder Truck No. 1 stopped remaining traffic on the interstate and rendered aid to the occupants of the vehicle involved in the accident, according to a news release from spokesman Santos Soto III.

Firefighters extricated seven occupants, all of which were transported to Baylor, Scott & White Medical Center-Temple with serious and life-threatening injuries, he said.

A photo from Temple Fire & Rescue showed damage to one of the truck’s doors.

“We would like to use this unfortunate event to remind the public, to please drive appropriately for the road conditions,” Soto said in the release. “While the snow may be melting today, other causes of weather related incidents such as fog and rain, can have consequences that are just as deadly. We can replace our vehicles, you however, cannot be replaced. Slow down, it could save your life!”

Warming stations open

The cold weather has also kept Temple’s two warming stations, located at the Temple Impact Church and Salvation Army, open.

Both station open when the weather is below freezing, when factoring in wind chill, or below 35 degrees when it is wet out.

Roy Rhodes, pastor at Impact Church, said the two organizations planned on opening their doors Tuesday night after being open since Thursday evening. He said the two stations would continue to stay open if it remained cold, but expected temperatures to rise to above freezing later in the week.

Meteorologist Jason Godwin, with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said Sunday’s snowfall was the first measurable amount of snow since March, 2015.

Godwin said Temple and Belton both received about 4 inches of snow, while Killeen received 4.5 inches and Fort Hood saw 1.5 inches.

While previous snowfalls might not have been enough to be measured, Temple did see some snow last February before it quickly melted by the afternoon.

Godwin said the last time Bell County saw more than an inch of snow was in 2010, which the area saw 3.3 inches. He said the area some of the highest recorded amounts of snow for the area occurred back in 1966 with about 9 inches.

“I feel pretty safe in saying that this is the most snowfall the area has seen in at least 10 years,” Godwin said. “It is not a totally unprecedented amount of snow, but definitely something that happens every 10 years or more.”