Super Bowl in the Big D, turns into the Big Chill

By Steve Keating

DALLAS (Reuters) - Super Bowl in the "Big D" has turned into the Big Chill, with sleet, snow and bitter cold threatening to disrupt America's biggest party.

Hammered by a massive winter storm that barreled across much of the United States, North Texas felt a bit more like the North Pole, with power outages paralyzing much of Dallas.

"Some hotels have experienced unexpected but brief blackouts this morning and we have been in contact with the public utility commission," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Reuters Wednesday. "We don't see any indication of impact."

The only event affected was Kids Day at the NFL Experience interactive theme park, which had to be canceled due to area schools being closed for a second straight day, McCarthy said.

The miserable conditions also forced the Steelers and Packers to move Wednesday's practice sessions indoors.

"We call this Steelers weather and I love that," said Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel. "It is a sheet of ice everywhere you go.

"Hopefully the weather will bring us some love."

SLOW START

With the winter blast the Super Bowl party has been slow to heat up.

Dallas awoke to widespread power outages Wednesday that knocked out traffic lights and snarled traffic in and around the downtown core, which will be Super Bowl party central.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the world's third-busiest airport, was returning to normal operation after being closed Tuesday for the first time since the September 11, 2001, attacks because of the icy conditions.

With the majority of the estimated 150,000 Super Bowl visitors expected to begin descending on Dallas Thursday, city officials were confident the storm would not disrupt any additional travel plans or festivities.

The cold will not affect any of the Super Bowl's hottest parties.

Organizers of Maxim magazine's annual Super Bowl bash, an invitation-only event for 1,500 people, say they expect a full house while Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser that supports food banks in every NFL city is sold out.

"We've run into weather issues in other markets over the course of the last 20 years and our guests seem to find a way to get there," Taste of the NFL founder Wayne Kostroski told Reuters.

"They know its fun and it's benefiting a critical issue."

Forecasters are calling for freezing temperatures to continue through Friday before giving way to sunny and clear conditions over the weekend with the mercury climbing into the low 60s Fahrenheit (16 Celsius) for the Super Bowl Sunday.

The weather will not affect the game since Cowboys Stadium has a retractable roof.

Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said there was "way too much" cold in Dallas.

"I am cold, I'm shaking but I am in a Super Bowl and that trumps everything," he said.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)