With wind chill temperatures dipping to near-zero on Austin Friday morning, it's clear that the city's bout of winter weather still isn't over.
From power outages to comfort foods, here's everything you need to know about this winter storm.
5:16 p.m. Friday—State of Disaster declared for Austin
Austin-Travis County leaders have issued a local state of disaster in response to this week’s winter storm. ❄ Residents are urged to maintain awareness of icy roadways, fire and carbon monoxide dangers from indoor heating elements, and falling ice. ⚠— City of Austin (@austintexasgov) February 4, 2022
The City of Austin and Travis County have declared a local State of Disaster for the area due to the winter storm.
“This disaster declaration will allow us to continue our winter weather response over the next several days, as we look to transitioning to recovery efforts," Travis County Judge Andy Brown said.
View the declarations here:
1 p.m. Friday—Temperatures rise above freezing
The sun has made a triumphant return!! We aren't finished with the cold yet though. Another cold night tonight with temperatures dipping into the 10s and lower 20s. #txwx#coldpic.twitter.com/T3LyVQh7NZ— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) February 4, 2022
Temperatures have risen above freezing for Austin, but be prepared for another frozen night. Lows tonight will dip to 19 degrees before more sun on Saturday brings temperatures over 40 degrees. Temperatures will continue to slightly warm up into the beginning of the week.
12:30 p.m.—147 flights canceled in Austin
As airline operations start to recover, we are expecting a usual flight schedule this afternoon.— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@AUStinAirport) February 4, 2022
Passengers with confirmed flights should give themselves plenty of time to safely travel to the airport & get to the terminal. Roadways, walkways & surfaces may be slick. https://t.co/3BncjLIjGT
After Austin-Bergstrom International Airport had the third most canceled flights yesterday, fewer flights have been canceled on Friday.
Still, 147 total flights at ABIA have been canceled on Friday, and there are 47 delays, per tracking site FlightAware.
11:16 a.m. Friday—AFD responds to 298 incidents in 24 hrs of the storm
From 9 a.m. 2/3 - 9 a.m. 2/4, we responded to:— Austin Fire Dept (@austinfiredept) February 4, 2022
• Total incidents: 298
• Fires: 24
• Traffic accidents/injuries: 41
• Wires down/arcing: 4
• Broken water pipes: 5
Hard freezes on tap for the next 2 nights; ✅ out our winter fire safety tips: https://t.co/EtsyMS1fiS 📹©AFD pic.twitter.com/yrZfKuVVPo
The Austin Fire Department has updated the public that they have assisted with 298 incidents from 9 a.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday—128 of those incidents were from Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
11 a.m. Friday—Abbott gives an update on the Texas power grid
Gov. Greg Abbott and state leaders said the electric grid is holding strong during a Friday morning meeting as he thanked the Texas Legislature for making improvements to the grid to make it “better” than last year.
Outages shrunk from around 70,000 homes Thursday to about 20,000 still without power statewide as of mid-Friday and are most likely to be caused by downed power lines. According to ERCOT, demand peaked around 8 a.m. this morning at 69,000 MW—last year’s freeze capped out at 77,000 MW.
Though electricity conditions remain stable, Abbott is still advising Texans to keep off the roads as conditions could still be dangerously icy. Abbott said three people died on roads yesterday, so if you find yourself stranded, call 1 (800) 525-5555.
10:13 a.m. Friday—100% of Austin residents have power
All Austin residents have power mid-morning, Austin Energy is reporting. The latest update comes as the sun is thawing ice on power lines.
The Winter Storm Warning ended at 10 a.m. this morning. View a live map of outages here.
8:32 a.m. Friday—356 Austin households without power
As most Austinites have been with power in the storm, 356 woke up without power at 8:32 a.m.
Austin Energy is reporting three outages with 343 customers in the Anderson Mill area affected.
10:30 p.m. Thursday—14-car pileup reported on I-35
#ATCEMS, @AustinFireInfo & @Austin_Police are on scene of a Motor Vehicle Collision at 6100 N IH 35 SB. #ATCEMSMedics on scene advising 14 vehicles involved. Please avoid travel on elevated roadways and overpasses, as icy conditions will continue overnight. More info to follow.— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) February 4, 2022
After a day of icy road conditions, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services reported a 14-car crash on North I-35 near Interstate 290 at around 10 p.m. Thursday night.
No major injuries were reported, and one person with minor injuries was treated at the scene after refusing to go to the hospital.
Austin officials recommend avoiding travel through Friday morning due to icy roadways, especially on bridges and overpasses.
Friday morning—Icy roads expected to persist
Going back for more. Crews in south Austin heading out to lay down more deicer. With temps so low, what melts is likely to refreeze. Avoid travel if you can. #ATXTraffic#txwxhttps://t.co/XPQlukV6P7pic.twitter.com/L74ckPukXb— TxDOT Austin (@TxDOTAustin) February 3, 2022
Prominent Austin roads including I-35, Highway 71, Highway 45, US 290 and US 283 have all been flagged with ice warnings by the department through at least 9 a.m. Friday, per a live map at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
TXDOT Austin said the department is working to deice roads. But with temperatures continuing to dip, officials told residents to avoid travel whenever possible.
Friday—City of Austin closes all services
The City of Austin is suspending normal operations Friday, Feb. 4 due to freezing temperatures. ❄ All essential public safety services will continue.— City of Austin (@austintexasgov) February 3, 2022
Text ATXWEATHER to 888-777 for updates in English or ATXCLIMA to 888-777 for updates in Spanish.
The City of Austin announced Thursday afternoon that it would be closing all nonofficial city services Friday.
Services including trash pick up, libraries, COVID vaccine and testing sites, and parks, except for emergency shelters, will be closed due to winter weather.
8:36 p.m.—Winter Storm Warning extended through Friday morning
Even though the wintry precipitation has ended and no additional precipitation is expected, we extended the Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories until 10 AM Friday due to the ongoing hazardous travel conditions with icy roads & additional black ice formation. #txwxpic.twitter.com/6UyppHGarq— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) February 4, 2022
Although you won't see any wintry precipitation on Friday, the National Weather Service's Winter Storm Warning has been extended from ending at 9 p.m. to lasting through 10 a.m. Friday.
Friday will be a sunny day, in which hazardous conditions can form from ice thawing.
24/7—Warming centers open for winter storm
The coldest temperatures are yet to come so 185 warming centers are open across the state with seven in Austin. Transportation is available by calling 311. The following will be open 24 hours per day until severe weather clears:
- Dove Springs Recreation Center - 5801 Ainez Drive
- Dittmar Recreation Center - 1009 W. Dittmar Road
- Gus Garcia Recreation Center - 1201 E. Rundberg Lane
- Givens Recreation Center - 3811 E. 12th Street
- Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center - 2608 Gonzales Street
Warming centers at Cowan Elementary, 2817 Kentish Drive, and Wooten Elementary, 1406 Dale Drive, will be open from 9 a.m-9 p.m. on Friday.
5 p.m.—H-E-B stores close early
H-E-B stores in North and Central Texas are closing early Thursday amid freezing temperatures. (Andrea Guzman/Austonia)
Central Texas H-E-B stores, including Austin stores, close early today at 5 p.m. as a precaution.
“At H-E-B, our top priority is taking care of Texas, and we are committed to help our fellow Texans in any situation our company and communities might face,” the grocer said in a statement.
Out-of-stock items are to be replenished, and curbside and home delivery may have limited availability in certain areas, H-E-B said.
4 p.m.—Fire Department update
From 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. today, we’ve responded to the following:— Austin Fire Dept (@austinfiredept) February 3, 2022
• Total incidents: 128
• Fires: 6
• Traffic accidents/injuries: 10
• Wires down/arcing: 4
• Broken water pipes: 2
In effect: a Wind Chill Advisory until 9 a.m. 2/4 for values as cold as -4°.
Pls stay home! pic.twitter.com/gdFX3ney99
The Austin Fire Department had a busy day assisting with a total of 128 accidents.
4 p.m.—Wintry mix pushes east
1:00 PM Update: light freezing drizzle and sleet continue to fall across the I-35 corridor and Hill Country, with steadier precip falling across the southeast. Activity should be pushing east of the I-35 corridor by middle afternoon. #txwxpic.twitter.com/70ZwzOhR2R— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) February 3, 2022
The sleet and freezing rain that have translated to ice accumulating across Austin should push east of I-35 by 4 p.m., the National Weather Service said Thursday.
“For areas along the I-35 corridor, including the Austin and San Antonio metros, the wintry mix precipitation impacts could end around between 4 and 6 p.m. later this afternoon,” the service said. “Once precipitation ends, a cold air mass will take place all over with overnight lows in the teens and 20s with wind chills in the single digits across a good portion of the area.”
But with no chance to melt, ice-related issues will continue into Friday as temperatures fight to rise above freezing.
Lunchtime—Thaw out with these delicious comfort foods
Down some hearty meals, including this vegan mushroom wild life soup, as you wait for the weather to warm back up.
You're already watching the winter storm ice over Austin: might as well have warm food in your belly while you're at it.
Pass the time while cooped up with these five comfort foods:
- Blackberry, bacon grilled cheese
- Sheet pan chicken tikka with cauliflower and chickpeas
- Spicy pork ramen noodle soup
- Vegan mushroom wild life soup
~11 a.m.—Abbott assures Texans that power grid is "reliable"
The roads in downtown Austin are nearly completely empty with prevalent ice. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
It looks like the cold weather will not cause a repeat of last year’s deadly storm as Gov. Greg Abbott said the “Texas electric grid is the most reliable and resilient than it has ever been,” and is even expected to have a 10,000 MW surplus.
This is one of the most severe icing events of the past few decades in Texas, so stay off the icy roads, report broken pipes, drip your faucets and call your energy provider if you experience an outage.
Click here for more on Abbott's statement and the state of the grid.
~8 a.m Thursday—Power outages begin
In the downtown Seaholm District, the lights remain on Thursday morning as seen on the tree lights. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
By 8 a.m. Thursday, around 1,000 Windsor Park residents had a rude awakening as they were met without power for much of the morning. As of 11 a.m., there were about 70,000 power outages in the state, mostly due to ice or fallen trees on power lines.
As of 1:24 p.m., 99.90% of Austin Energy customers have power.
Click here for an outages map.
~9 a.m. Tuesday-present—Bitcoin facilities shut down mining to conserve energy
Riot Blockchain says it has decreased its power consumption by 98-99%.
Bitcoin facilities are slowing down mining operations to ease the strain on the Texas power grid as the state battles freezing temperatures. Some, like Central Texas’ Riot Blockchain Inc., signed onto a Texas Blockchain Council letter to Gov. Abbott saying they’re taking measures to create additional energy capacity.
Riot told Austonia Wednesday afternoon that the company was using 1-2% of power. It will continue to do so until “there is no extreme stress on the ERCOT grid.”
Click here for more on Bitcoin facility shutoffs.
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When Facebook first came to Austin in 2010, it had just over a handful of employees based here.
Now, after a surge in the Austin employee headcount, the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and a name change by its parent company to Meta, preparations are being made for its most striking local office yet.
A drone video taken by Austonia shows the building Meta will occupy, Sixth and Guadalupe, is well into the process of rising up to its full form as a contender for the tallest building in Austin if a 74-story project at 98 Red River St. doesn’t beat them out. Once it's completed in 2023, it’ll have 589,112 square feet of office space and nearly 350 units of residential space.
Ed Muth, Gensler principal-in-charge of the project, says it’s one of those buildings that only comes along every so often.
“However, it seems like in Austin, we have more and more of them that continue to happen,” Muth said. “But this one is very special for us. It’s a combination of three or four building types together with the parking garage, the office and the residential piece all with a ground-level that has retail in it and everything else that makes the building function.”
All these pieces coming together are captured in real-time with a camera documenting the building’s ascent.
A fan cam for the construction process is fitting for a tower poised to be 66 floors. But Sixth and Guadalupe is more than just its height.
“At the end, you get great views out of the residences and the office space is just incredible because of the floor plate size and just the convenience in downtown,” Muth said. “I don't know that there's anything like it or there will be like it for a while in the marketplace. This is gonna set the standard.”
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PORT ARANSAS–This is not Hilton Head or Palm Beach, with white tennis shorts and BMWs at the CVS. It’s quintessentially Texas, a beach where F-350s line up at the town’s three stop lights, and kids from Amarillo stare slack-jawed at “the ocean” for the first time.
Now Father’s Day and the 4th of July approach, and a string of 100-degree days lurk ahead in Austin. Here’s our survival guide to Port A.
The average July high in Austin is 95 and in Port Aransas 90.3.
Cars lined up on the beach during Memorial Day weekend. (Rich Oppel)
Driving from Austin, the trip is 200 miles or more. That can take four to five and a half hours, depending on time of day and route. Three strategies:
- Our favorite: Take toll road SH 130 south to Lockhart and take U.S. 183 to Refugio, left on Texas 774 and follow your navigation to Aransas Pass, then left on Texas 361 to the ferry to Port A. Tips: Leave early. Avoid late Thursday or Fridays. Check the Texas DOT website for ferry wait times, which vary from 15 minutes to an hour.
- Second strategy: If the ferry line is long, detour from Bayside south of Refugio to Corpus Christi and come up Mustang Island on highway 361. This adds about 30 miles.
- A no-toll route: Southwest on I-35 to San Antonio, then south-southeast on I-37 into Corpus, north on 361. I-35 can be nerve-racking getting out of Austin and going through San Antonio. I-37 is blissfully boring. About 250 miles.
On the way in, refill your tank at the H-E-B in Aransas Pass, cheaper by a quarter a gallon than any fuel you’ll find on Mustang Island.
Sights and sounds
As you drive through South Texas you will see fields of pump jacks and wind turbines as well as fields of corn and soybean and red brangus ranches. Near the Port A ferry, huge turbine blades made in Europe are stacked high. This is a working port, but it is fast-changing.
- Check VRBO for a condo. The big condos lining the beach (Aransas Princess, The Dunes, Sandpiper, Sea Gull, Mayan Princess and more) have a few pricey rentals left, with a 2-bedroom typically going for $250 to $700 a night.
- Camp on the beach. Buy a $12 annual permit at the IGA or any convenience store, and park between markers 0 and 62. Bring a sturdy tent; it can be windy. A trailer or RV are even better.
- Rent a cottage off the beach. Scores of new stilt houses and multi-family dwellings were built after Hurricane Harvey laid waste to Port A in 2017. Factoid: The average elevation of Port A is 7 feet. Even cheaper than a Port A back-island rental: Find a place off-island in Rockport or Corpus Christi.
Our favorites are the Venetian Hot Plate, Roosevelt’s, Tortuga and Fins. For a cheeseburger, fries and a beer with a Gulf view, the Beach Lodge. There are 60 restaurants on Mustang Island, and the lines are long in the summer. Get there early or late, or order takeout–which is available at many places. Make reservations at the high-end places. Dress is casual. Anyone with shoelaces is way overdressed.
Fun things to do
- Rent a beach cart. They’ll run you up to $150 a day. Port A is one of the few places in Texas where they can be operated by unlicensed drivers 16 and older. Cart rental places outnumber seagulls.
- Cast a fishing line off the South Jetty, and then watch petroleum tankers and cargo ships glide through Aransas Pass, coming from or going to Corpus Christi docks.
- See hundreds of species of birds at the Turnbull Birding Center.
- Eat seafood at Snoopy’s Pier, overlooking Laguna Madre, on South Padre Island Drive 20 miles south of Port A. Afterward, take the kids to Scoopy’s next door for ice cream.
- Ride slowly along the beach and people-watch, or park and stroll or run along the wide strand. Watch the sunrise at Horace Caldwell Pier.
- It’s red snapper season. Take a head boat out of Deep Sea Headquarters for a $125, eight-hour trip 20 to 30 miles out. Limit out with two 16-inch or larger snapper. Great eating.
Port A has gotten expensive since huricane Harvey. Labor costs are skyrocketing because waiters, cleaning people and store attendants can’t find affordable housing on the island. If you haven’t been there in a few years, expect sticker shock.