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'Treacherous' conditions reported across Houston area

HOUSTON – Officials on Wednesday warned of dangerous conditions that remain across the Houston area after a winter storm coated the region with ice.

After Tuesday’s wintry mix fell, temperatures plummeted into the lower 20s for many locations. That prevented any ice that accumulated from melting, resulting in slippery roads.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett again urged people to stay off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary, describing the conditions as “treacherous.”

“This morning is still going to be bad,” Emmett said.

Officials reported nearly 50 highway closures because of ice and more than 140 ice-on-road locations.

RELATED: Check road conditions

Dozens of tractor-trailers were stranded on 59 Southwest Freeway near the Westpark Tollway because officials closed the highway heading into downtown Houston. The freeway was also closed in the Montrose area. Authorities in both locations were forcing traffic to exit.

RELATED: Tractor-trailers stranded on 59

TxDOT officials said crews have been working through the night to apply brine and de-icing solution to the roads, but the sub-freezing temperature is preventing any melting. There was no timeline on when the highways would reopen, officials said.

VIDEO: Harris County officials provide update on icy roads

METRO officials said that rail service is running, but bus service is suspended until at least Wednesday afternoon. There is no Park & Ride service on Wednesday, officials said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the deputies responded to 582 reports of crashes since the ice storm began Tuesday morning.

Gonzalez also said deputies are investigating a fire at a mobile home in the Huffman area that killed at least three people.

RELATED: Fatalities reported in Huffman mobile home fire

Emmett also said that petrochemical plants may need to conduct flaring operations after the ice storm. He said residents who live nearby should not be concerned if they see large flames coming from the plants.

People seem to have made the most out of the winter blast. Many shared videos of their attempts at sledding, while others shared pictures of pets that were not quite sure what to make of the icy weather.

PHOTOS: How Houstonians weather an ice storm

Emmett even made a joke during Wednesday morning’s news conference, saying he was trying to help homebound people with their ice bingo game.

Forecasters said temperatures will climb above freezing by midday. Sunshine and some wind will allow the region to thaw out. Road crews said they hope this will allow for roads to quickly recover.

RELATED: Check the forecast

Another night of sub-freezing temperatures is forecast Wednesday, which will likely again result is some slick spots on area roads.

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