With Hurricane Marco on his way out and Hurricane Laura on her way to Texas, Austin first responders will likely see some action along the coastal communities threatened by the storm—but residents here in Central Texas won't see much rain, forecasters told Austonia on Tuesday.
"It's actually going to have little to no impact on our weather here in Central Texas," said Aaron Treadway, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio. "We may see some scattered thunderstorms with the outer rain bands tomorrow into Thursday, but we're only calling for a 20-30% chance of rain."
Winds are not expected to increase here at all, he said, meaning that the humidity and heat index is likely to stay the same throughout the week.
Laura was upgraded to a hurricane on Tuesday morning, with winds up to 75 mph, and expected to make landfall Wednesday along the Gulf Coast near the border of Texas and Louisiana. Before hitting landfall, Hurricane Laura is predicted to Category 3 hurricane or stronger, according to the Weather Channel.
On Tuesday, the City of Austin, Travis County, Hays County and Williamson County activated the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan— last activated in response to Hurricane Harvey—at the state's request to prepare to receive evacuees from coastal communities.
Several evacuation centers will open today, including one in Austin at The Circuit of the Americas at 4 p.m.
The plan has been in place for several years and is activated by major disasters and other events requiring mass sheltering.
The Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services have deployed resources ready to help the coastal communities, both agencies announced.
Firefighters are sending six boat teams, two helicopter rescue crews and five urban search-and-rescue crews. EMS has ambulance and bus crews, a swift-water rescue crew and other support personnel.
Late last night, we rostered 13 members of our dept—including 6 for a 🛥️ team, 2 🚁 rescue personnel, and five urban… https://t.co/8DkXA22p5Z— Austin Fire Dept (@Austin Fire Dept)1598278724.0
Treadway said even if the storm moves more westerly, closer to Houston, rain chances would still go up in Austin but only slightly.
Moderately milder temperatures—80s mid-day, highs in the upper 90s—will give way to triple-digit temps come Friday, Treadway said, lasting at least through the weekend.
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Expect some whiplash this week, Austinites: with an expected high of 103 degrees, Monday is predicted to be the hottest day of the year, but a midweek cold front is on the way to bring that first glimpse of fall.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport could see its first 100-degree temperature this year on Monday as temperatures citywide are expected to exceed this year's record of 102 degrees.
The cold front arrives Tuesday afternoon to evening.#atx #atxwx #cbsaustinwx https://t.co/rQni6ug3y4 pic.twitter.com/PoFeHPYtnM
— Chikage Windler WX (@ChikageWeather) September 20, 2021
After a typical summery Tuesday with highs in the mid-90s, Wednesday will welcome the first signs of fall as a cold front drops lows into the 50s.
Expect more wind and a chance of rain come Tuesday with a 40% chance of scattered storms. The cold front, which should last through Friday, will bring drier, crisper air that could cause fire hazards on Wednesday.
Highs will be in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s and lower 60s for the front's final two mornings.
After near record heat today, a cold front arrives tomorrow! Hang in there South-Central Texas, we have almost made it. pic.twitter.com/yd9UbNo7hY
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) September 20, 2021
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Around 75 dogs died in a fire Saturday night at Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown, according to the Georgetown Fire Department, leaving dozens of owners to mourn the losses of their furry companions.
The fire department arrived on the scene less than five minutes after 911 calls started flooding in at 10:56 p.m. At their arrival, they found flames and clouds of smoke, according to GFD Chief John Sullivan.
Twenty-five firefighters were on the scene, hoping to save as many lives as possible, initially trying to open some ventilation and control the smoke, though they were unable to save any dogs. Sullivan said his heart goes out to the families of the victims of the fire.
"I've been doing this for 29 years and this is the first incident that I've had where we've lost so many pets," Sullivan said. "I hate to use that term because, to me, a pet is a lot more than a pet—it is the closest friend. I wish I could convey my internal emotions adequately. I just wish I could go back in time to make it better."
Families of the fallen pets, who are believed to have died from smoke inhalation, have created a memorial outside the pet resort's fence complete with flowers, photos, notes and beloved toys of their friends.
No people were discovered at the scene—Ponderosa's boarding policies state that the staff feels that pets sleep better at night when no employees are there, so the pets are left unattended at night.
The fire department is still working to discover what caused the fire. Despite fire and smoke damage to the inside, the outer metal exterior survived the blaze. Based on the type of construction and occupancy type, the building was not required to have a sprinkler system.
"Quite frankly, I view my personal pet as probably my closest confidant, friend and the one that doesn't judge, so my heart just breaks," Sullivan said.
The fire claimed the lives of dog duo Bunny and Clyde, leaving owners and newlywed couple Don and Pam Richard devastated and angry KXAN reports, saying they wouldn't have left the dogs had they known they would be left unattended at night.
The Richard family is planning to petition the city of Georgetown, making it so that animals in professional care are never left unattended again.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."