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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Chesa Boudin and José Garza share the rare handle of “progressive prosecutor”—Boudin in San Francisco and Garza in Austin.
Former public defender Boudin was voted out by nearly 60% of voters on Tuesday, after being elected by a slim margin in 2019 with a platform of police reform, criminal justice reform and addressing racial inequality. His opponents argue his policies threaten public safety.
As Travis County District Attorney Garza remains in office, halfway through his four-year term, he is so far silent on Boudin’s landslide defeat. Repeated calls to the D.A. by Austonia for his comment were not returned as of publication.
Boudin’s stances closely reflect fellow progressive Garza’s platform
Garza and Boudin have a similar track record: Both have received endorsements from progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT; serve progressive cities; believe in holding law enforcement accountable and have been criticized for not being tough enough on criminals.
During his tenure, Boudin eliminated cash bail, reduced the prison population and brought nine criminal conduct cases against officers for misconduct.
Likewise, Garza obtained indictments of five Austin police officers, two sheriff’s deputies, an assistant county attorney and a sheriff on charges including tampering with evidence and murder. Distrust between Garza and Austin police is at a high level.
But there are key differences
San Francisco is facing three major types of crime: Murders, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts have increased significantly since 2019. While a report by KXAN last October showed Austin shared a “sizable jump” in homicides in the past 18-24 months, the homicide rate remains at 7.69 per 100,000, which is lower than both Dallas and San Antonio.
San Francisco’s housing crisis doesn’t seem to be improving and neither does public perception of the expanding homeless population, but since Austin reinstated the camping ban in May 2021, the housing crisis has leveled off locally.Plus, while Boudin narrowly scooted by in his election, Garza topped opponent Margaret Moore by 3%, followed by 68% in the runoffs and 70% of the votes in the general election in 2020.
What the opposition is saying
The Austin Police Association took notice of the San Francisco election, and the similarities that Boudin and Garza have shared. APA president Ken Casaday told Austonia the results were not surprising to him.
“San Francisco citizens became tired of the lack of prosecution of cases,” Casaday said. “The APA plans on allowing the citizens of Austin to make the decision on how to handle our D.A. After all, he was voted in by the citizens just like D.A. Boudin was two years ago.”
Casaday continued, “D.A. Garza is no different than Mr. Boudin. They were funded by the same people to do what they’ve done. In fact, Mr. Garza has never prosecuted a case in his life which makes it tough to understand the complexities of prosecuting cases.”
Austonia reached out to the office of congressional candidate Greg Casar and Judge Andy Brown, as well as organizations that have endorsed Garza, including Austin DSA, Black Austin Democrats and the Austin Justice Coalition but was not able to hear back for comment at the time of publication.
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