Thursday, March 2, 2023

City to Open Short-Term Safe Havens to Help Community During Severe Weather March 2nd, 2023

 

Most severe impacts of storm expected between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.  

The City of Austin will extend the hours of dozens of Parks and Recreation and Public Library facilities this evening, March 2, to help anyone needing a safe place to wait out the expected thunderstorm. 

A total of 20 recreation centers and four public libraries will remain open until 10 p.m., by which time the worst of the storm is forecast to have passed Austin.  

A full list of the locations opening late can be found at www.austintexas.gov/alerts

“It’s important as we go into the severe weather season the community stays on top of rapidly changing weather conditions and be prepared take action necessary to remain safe,” said Juan Ortiz, Director of the City’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “We’re urging families to ensure that when these thunderstorms come they know where they’re going to wait them out so they’re not caught in the middle. We hope that by extending the hours of several City facilities we’ll help those who need somewhere to go.”  

The National Weather Service has warned of severe weather threats across most of South-Central Texas, including Austin, this evening. Risks include damaging straightline winds, with gusts of up to 60 mph, large hail and possible isolated tornadoes. The most severe impacts of the storm are expected be felt in Austin between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. 

The City of Austin and Travis County established a Situational Awareness Team this afternoon and public safety departments are monitoring the weather and providing regular reports to the Emergency Operations Center. 

Here are some essential emergency preparedness steps and tips for severe weather:   

  • Make a plan: Create an emergency plan with your family that includes designated meeting spots and emergency contacts. Make sure everyone knows what to do and practice your plan.   

  • Build an emergency kit: Prepare an emergency kit with essentials such as non-perishable food, a flashlight, water, first-aid supplies, and any necessary medications. Don't forget to include supplies for pets.   

  • Know Your Neighbors: By knowing your neighbors and building a strong network, you can increase your community's readiness level in an emergency.  

  • Stay informed: Keep your cell phone charged or a battery-powered radio to monitor local weather conditions. Sign up for emergency notifications from WarnCentralTexas.org to receive important information during emergencies.  

  • Protect your property: Secure loose items such as outdoor furniture and garden tools that could become dangerous projectiles during high winds. Keep trees trimmed to prevent damage from falling branches.  

  • Seek shelter: If severe weather is approaching, seek shelter in a safe location such as an interior room on the lowest level of your home. Go to the safest location in your home such as a room with no windows or exterior walls.  

  • Turn off utilities: Know how to turn off gas, water, and electricity in case of an emergency.  


City of Austin updates

Austin Energy 
Trees may still be damaged from February’s ice storm, and these conditions could cause outages if limbs and branches connect with power lines. Austin Energy is preparing crews to respond to the potential weather and outages. Power outages can be reported at outagemap.austinenergy.com, by texting OUT to 287846 or by calling 512-322-9100. 

Austin Transportation 
Staff will be monitoring Austin’s 1,100+ traffic signals and working to keep the community safe. If you approach a dark traffic signal in your vehicle, please treat it as an all-way stop. You may report dark traffic signals, signal damage, road damage or any other weather-related concerns by contacting Austin 3-1-1 via phone (dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000) or the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app. Austin Transportation will be providing updates in case of an emergency on the department’s Facebook and Twitter channels.   

Please take steps to travel safely in response to the forecast. Anyone traveling during potentially windy conditions is advised to:  

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

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

  • 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.    

Animal Services 
Advice for pet owners: Check your fencing and your gates before you let your dog out to go potty - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If your dog does get loose, text ‘LostATX’ to (844) 764-2125 to get immediate tips on what to do. Learn more about weather safety for pets: www.austintexas.gov/page/weather-safety-pets

Public Works 
Austin Public Works crews are on standby to respond to weather-related 3-1-1 requests during the duration of the storm, including clearing tree limbs and debris blocking streets to ensure access for emergency services vehicles. 
 
Today’s Barton Springs Road Bridge Project Meeting at McBeth Recreation Center has been postponed due to expected  inclement weather. The project team will share a new in-person date soon. In the meantime, Austin residents can still provide comments and feedback. A virtual public meeting will be available starting today, March 2: bit.ly/BartonSpringsBridgeVirtualOpenHouse

Watershed Protection 
Some users of ATXFloods.com may experience problems accessing the website. Flooding is NOT expected with tonight’s severe weather. Should weather conditions change, any City of Austin road closures due to flooding will be announced through ATX Floods on Twitter. Watershed Protection staff are working to resolve the website issue as soon as possible. Please stay tuned to local media for updates on severe weather. 
 
Austin Public Library 
The four library locations that will remain open until 10 pm this evening, to help the community avoid the severe weather, are: Central Library, Little Walnut Creek Branch, Terrazas Branch, and Old Quarry Branch. No library services will be available (ie, checkouts, computers, etc.) but the buildings will be open. All in-person programming at APL locations after 5:00 p.m. are cancelled. 
 
Parks and Recreation 
A full list of the recreation centers remaining open until 10 p.m. this evening to help the community avoid the severe weather is available at www.austintexas.gov/alerts. Inclement weather may affect programs and facility operations. Check PARD’s closure page for any cancelations and closures: www.AustinTexas.gov/ParkClosures.

Austin Public Health Offering Gift Cards To Encourage All COVID-19 Vaccinations, Booster Doses

COVID-19 vaccination rates in Austin-Travis County remain static among low income communities and Travis County areas with limited access to...