Monday, January 30, 2023

Icy Winter Weather Mix Forecasted in Austin Area

 

City of Austin Prepares: Encourages Residents to Prepare Also  

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Winter Storm Warning in effect for January 30, 2023 at 9:00 a.m. CST until February 1, 2023 CST at Noon. The cold front came in last night and, overnight, the NWS enhanced the Warning area to cover Travis County as well as additional counties east in Central Texas. 

The City of Austin Office of Homeland Secuity and Emergency Management (HSEM) has activated a Situational Assessment Team at the Emergency Operations Center and will be monitoring weather conditions overnight. 

Cold Weather Shelters for the Unhoused: 

The City is activating its Cold Weather Shelters tonight (1/30) and tomorrow night (1/31).  

Cold Weather Shelter Activation Thresholds:  

  • 32 degrees or colder overnight   
  • 35 degrees, with rain/wet   
  • 35 degrees, with wind chill of 32 or colder  

The City uses the National Weather Service weather report at Camp Mabry as the official location for assessing temperatures due to its central location and proximity to Downtown.  

  • Individuals can get information about access and activation by calling the Cold Weather Shelter Hotline at 512-305-4233.   
  • Shelter registration takes place between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at One Texas Center (OTC), 505 Barton Springs Road.   
  • CapMetro transports registered individuals from the OTC to a Cold Weather Shelter.   
  • While Cold Weather Shelters are primarily accessed by people experiencing homelessness, they are available to anyone in need of a warm place to spend the night. 

Warming Centers: 

City Parks Facilities and Libraries serve as warming shelters during regular businesses hours.  Parks facilities will be closing at 6 p.m. Today. Austin Libraries will maintain regular operating hours today.  

Winter Weather Tips.  We are asking residents to make sure they are ready for winter weather conditions. Follow tips at austintexas.gov/winterweather   

  • People – Before going outside, dress in layers to protect yourself from the cold. While heating your home, do not use a generator, grill, camp-stove, or any gasoline, propane, or charcoal-burning device because they generate deadly carbon monoxide gas. 
  • Pets – Bring your pets inside to keep them warm and safe.   
  • Pipes – Insulate or cover exposed pipes to protect them from freezing, turn off outside faucets, drip ONE faucet only if needed . 
  • Plants – cover your plants or bring them in. 

Stay informed:   

Follow additional safety tips from City of Austin departments.  

Austin Parks and Recreation Department  

All Austin Parks and Recreation facilities will close at 6:00 p.m. on January 30, 2023. For additional park closures, visit AustinTexas.gov/ParkClosures

During icy weather, look up to check for branch failures before walking under trees. Some isolated areas may get more ice than others, so there may be minor accumulations in one area and major storm damage in another area of town. Call 311 to report damaged trees on City parkland.  

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services  

The ATCEMS Department Operations Center (DOC) has been activated. Additionally, several temporary policy changes are in effect, which the community may notice.  

The following steps are completed or in progress: 

Operations: 

  • ATCEMS may modify its transport guidelines as weather conditions impact road travel. 

  • Additional single-unit response assets will be deployed to assist in any increased call volume. 

  • The Alternative Transport Unit (ATU) is currently staffed and on duty to assist in transporting low acuity patients to appropriate facilities. ATCEMS Command Staff is attempting to make arrangements to keep this resource on 24 hours a day for the duration of the event. 

  • ATCEMS is working to expand the capabilities of our Collaborative Care Communications Center (C4) to be available 24 hours a day as an additional resource for finding appropriate dispositions for low acuity patients, including telehealth consults. 

  • ATCEMS Executive and Command Staff are holding regular planning and logistics meetings to continue preparations, respond to any unanticipated needs, and make additional adjustments as necessary. 

Fleet and Facilities: 

  • Preparing all response vehicles for cold weather operations, to ensure our fleet is not negatively impacted by the frigid temperatures.  

  • Additional measures are being taken to ensure all emergency response vehicles remain operational and ready for response. 

  • EMS Fleet and Facilities staff have been placed on-call to respond to any unanticipated needs. 

Supply Warehouse: 

  • ATCEMS Supply Warehouse staff has stockpiled extra cold weather supplies both at our central supply warehouse and has added additional supplies to all ATCEMS stations. 

  • EMS Supply Staff have been placed on-call to respond to any unanticipated needs. 

Austin Water 

Austin Water encourages customers to take steps now to protect their property and prevent damage:  

  • Locate your water shutoff. Locate the water main shutoff valve and keep it clear of debris and obstacles. For most homes, the property owner’s shutoff valve is on your side of the water meter at the meter box. For renters, please consult with your property manager. If you cannot find your shutoff valve or if it is damaged, then you should be prepared to access the City shutoff valve in the meter box in an emergency. You may need a water meter key to open the meter box, which can be purchased at most hardware stores. 

Watch a video about how to locate your water shutoff. 

  • Weatherize to keep out cold air.  Make repairs to broken or drafty windows, doors, and walls. Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and be prepared to close garage doors for the duration of the freeze. Cover vents on your home’s foundation.
  • Weatherize exposed pipes and water heaters. Insulate pipes in unheated and drafty areas, such as an attic or garage. Also check manufacturer recommendations for your tanked and tankless water heaters. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to help keep pipes from freezing. 
  • Learn how to drip faucets properly. After the measures above are taken, and if temperatures drop below freezing for an extended period of time, drip one cold water faucet slowly if you feel your pipes may still freeze. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main shutoff valve. It does not need to be a running trickle. If you do drip your faucet, capture the water for future use.  

Watch a video about how to drip faucets properly. 

  • Outside faucets. Austin Water encourages all customers to turn off irrigation systems during the winter months to help conserve water. Wrap outside faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator. 
  • Sign up for notifications through Austin Water’s My ATX Water customer portal. Follow additional tips on freezing temperatures.  
  • Austin Water’s 24-Hour Emergency Hotline can be reached at 512-972-1000, Option 1. 

Austin Energy  

Austin Energy is monitoring the weather closely and crews are ready to respond as the winter weather rolls into Austin.  

In extreme cold, ice can add heavy weight and bring wires in contact with trees which may also lead to downed power lines. Do not drive over or go near a downed power line, as it could be energized. Call 311 if you see a downed line to report it. If the line is sparking, call 911.  If you see limbs on wires or see downed tree limbs, please call 311 to report them. 

In case of a power outage:   

  • Unplug appliances and turn off most lights to avoid overloading circuits when power is restored.   

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed during an outage and follow FDA guidelines for food safety. 

  Stay Informed    

  • To report a power outage, text OUT to 287846 or visit outagemap.austinenergy.com. You can also report an outage by calling 512-322-9100.   nee 

  • Register for Austin Energy’s Outage Alerts by texting REG to 287846   

  • Learn more about how to stay warm, stay safe, and save on your utility bill during winter weather at austinenergy.com/go/winter.   

  • Monitor ERCOT grid conditions at ERCOT.com for information impacting local and statewide electricity service.   

  • Customers are also urged to tune in for Austin utility emergency alerts by bookmarking COAUtilities.comaustinenergy.com.  

  • Follow Austin Energy on social media:   

Electrical Safety Tips:   

  • If using an electric space heater, be sure it has an automatic shut-off switch and non-glowing elements, and make sure to keep away from flammable materials.   

  • Never heat your home with a gas oven or burn anything in a stove or a fireplace that is not vented. Do not burn paper in a fireplace.   

Austin Public Works Department 

Austin Public Works is proactively monitoring local streets ahead of forecasted precipitation and freezing temperatures. Crews from our Street and Bridge Operations division have mobilized around-the-clock crew coverage to monitor roadway conditions and address weather impacts. This includes monitoring elevated surfaces/bridges, pre-treating them as needed; applying traction enhancement materials to already-icy roadways; responding to weather related 3-1-1 requests; and removing any tree limbs or debris blocking the right of way. 

PWD does not pre-treat all roadways, bridges and elevated surfaces ahead of freezing temperatures and precipitation. Treatment is performed as conditions warrant and resources allow. If travel is necessary, please be mindful of road conditions in your area. 

Austin Transportation 

The Austin Transportation Department is also advising residents to take steps to travel safely in response to this week’s forecast of winter weather. If you do need to travel, please be especially cautious around elevated areas such as bridges and overpasses. Anyone traveling during potentially icy conditions are advised to:    

  • Monitor weather conditions before setting out on your trip and avoid traveling, if possible.

  • Avoid elevated roads, such as overpasses and bridges, if possible.   

  • Plan additional time for travel, go slowly and turn carefully.   

  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating to maintain traction.   

  • Ensure you have packed emergency supplies in your vehicle such as blankets, jumper cables, emergency lights, and a cell phone charger in case of a crash or emergency.   

Residents who need to report traffic light outages, road damage or any other weather-related concerns, may do so by contacting Austin 3-1-1 via phone (dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000) or the Austin 311 mobile app. Austin Transportation will be providing updates in case of an emergency on the department’s Facebook and Twitter channels.  

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)  

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) remains open to travelers and aircraft. Department of Aviation staff are monitoring weather conditions and will treat roadways, walkways, runways and other airfield infrastructure with de-icing chemicals and equipment as needed. Because airlines oversee de-icing of their aircraft and because severe weather in other parts of the country can disrupt airline operations, travelers flying out today through Wednesday afternoon should confirm their flight’s schedule prior to leaving for the airport. Travelers can follow updates from the airport’s Twitter account, @AustinAirport 

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