The intense cold continues in Central Texas, as Austin heads into some of the coldest days in over 20 years. A winter storm warning has gone into effect from this morning until Monday.
According to the National Weather Service, patchy freezing rain and sleet could occur into Saturday night, while a major winter storm is predicted on Sunday and Monday. On those days, up to two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulation is possible, while some areas may receive up to six inches of snow.
All parts of the city are feeling the impact of the weather in one way or another.
Due to icy road conditions, officials including Mayor Steve Adler have warned to stay cautious on roadways, only traveling when necessary. According to KXAN, Austin-Travis County EMS crews answered nearly 650 calls in a 24-hour period from noon on Thursday to the same time Friday for weather-related incidents.
As tree limbs fall on power lines and ice weighs them down, power outages are occurring throughout the city. As of 9:45 a.m., 1,200 Austinites were without power and 14 incidents required tree trimming.
A map of power outages in the city can be found here.
Adler said that Austin Energy is repairing the system as quickly as possible, but those who need a place to keep warm can head to the Palmer Events Center on 900 Barton Springs Road. The center opened at 10 a.m. Saturday, and an evening shelter is available upon request.
With growing concerns for the safety of homeless populations, Adler announced that cold weather shelters will operate 24/7 until further notice. Those seeking shelter can head to the Central Library, located at 710 W. César Chávez St., at 6 p.m. to be transported to shelters.
Austin Public Health has shut down all three COVID-19 vaccine clinics and will be canceling all appointments on Saturday due to inclement weather.
The 2,300 appointments set for today, which were all for second doses of the vaccine, will be rescheduled for next week.
The department will reach out through email or phone as conditions are monitored throughout the coming days, so those who had appointments do not need to contact APH to reschedule.
All of the appointments were for those who were administered their first dose between Jan. 11 and Jan. 16. The doses, when refrigerated, will remain viable for 30 days, and those taking the second dose can do so between 28 and 42 days after their first appointment, according to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Mark Escott, interim public health authority for Austin-Travis County, said that it is important for the city to keep people safe from both hazardous weather conditions and COVID-19.
"We know this is frustrating and disappointing," Escott said. "The health and safety of our residents is our top priority and we want to ensure that we do not put people in harm's way while protecting them from COVID-19."
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When Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would rescind business capacity limits and a statewide masking mandate on Texas Independence Day, he framed it as a step forward. "With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny," he said during a press conference at a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock.
But some local restaurants and bars, which have been caught in the regulatory crosshairs since Texas' first positive COVID test 364 days ago, have chosen to ignore Abbott's overture. Instead, they will continue to maintain pandemic precautions once the executive order takes effect next week, citing a desire to keep their staff and patrons safe.
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(AUSTIN, TEXAS) Austonia has hired Claire Partain as a reporter covering Austin FC, the MLS expansion team that will be Austin's first major league sports franchise.
Partain is a former sports editor for the The University Star, Texas State University's daily newspaper. She edited, covered sports, produced podcasts, and hosted a pre-game TXST football tailgate live series. Partain has been freelancing with the company since January, prior to accepting a staff position.
A native of Fairfield, Texas, Partain grew up playing youth soccer. In her high school years, she played alongside her mother in what was then called the Freestone County Hispanic Women's Soccer League.
Claire's coverage philosophy: "I like to bring out the humanity of sports, and I want to make this the most accessible sports coverage possible."
She notes that soccer is the predominant sport for young people. "It's a global sport, and we're more connected to the world than older generations."
That approach fits the team's already visible presence in Austin, says Austonia CEO Mark Dewey. "Austin FC has established itself as a leading Austin brand, one that stands for a more unified Austin community, a bigger global presence for Austin and fun. Austonia shares those values."
Partain's soccer coverage begins immediately, with her free, hosted text service—Austonia FC. For updates, special access and inside info, all moderated by Claire, sign up below.
Austonia is the city's independent, free, locally-owned and all-digital source for Austin news, information and entertainment.
Connect with Austonia through its daily email newsletter and text updates, @austonianews Instagram feed, @austonianews and @austinist Twitter feeds, @austonianews Facebook page and its website austonia.com.
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Austin Public Health will release another batch of first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Thursday on Wednesday evening. A department spokesperson estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 slots will be available.
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