Ice Downs Tree Limbs and Power Lines, Tens of Thousands Without Power

Austin bears the brunt of localized winter storm

Ice-snapped limbs bury cars and power lines in South Austin on Wednesday. See more images in our photo gallery. (photo by Jana Birchum)

Two years after Winter Storm Uri, Austinites are experiencing déjà vu, as Wednesday morning brought the right combination of cold and precipitation to grind the city to a halt.

After temperatures dipped below freezing Monday, all local K-12 school districts and colleges canceled classes, and state emergency leaders encouraged everyone to stay off the roads. Overnight precipitation blanketed heavy ice on tree limbs and powerlines, and as of 12pm Wednesday, approximately 145,000 households, 27% of Austin Energy customers, are without power. As of Wednesday morning, there were 76 reports of downed wires.

The worst of the ice storm stretched south to San Marcos and north to Waco and beyond, with another 150,000 or so households without power statewide. The managers of the state power grid continue to report enough generation for normal operations throughout the storm. Austin Fire responded to 90+ crashes overnight Monday, three involving their own units, and two structure fires caused by space heaters Tuesday morning. After Monday’s reported 72 crashes, 11 falls on ice, 10 cold exposures, and 1 carbon monoxide exposure, Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services deployed extra staffing and vehicles. Though more precipitation is expected later today, temperatures will climb to the 40s tomorrow morning, and the winter storm warning is expected to lift at 6am Thursday. Because of icy roads, Austin Energy crews expect it will take 12-24 hours to restore everyone’s power.

Overnight city cold weather shelters have been open since Monday. Go to One Texas Center at 505 Barton Springs Road for registration from 6-8pm, accessible by the following bus lines: 1, 7, 10, 20, 30, 105, 142, and 801; or call 512/305-4233.

Daytime warming centers are open from 9am-5pm at the following locations:

• Little Walnut Creek Branch Library, 835 W. Rundberg Ln, Austin, TX 78758
  • Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702 
  • Turner-Roberts Recreation Center, 7201 Colony Loop Dr., Austin, TX 78724
  • Austin Recreation Center, 1301 Shoal Creek, Austin, TX 78701

If you haven’t already, sign up for alerts at Warn Central Texas: https://member.everbridge.net/892807736729515/login

Check local outages here: https://outagemap.austinenergy.com/external/default.html/

Report an outage by texting OUT to 287846.

Report downed power lines to 512/322-9100.

Check traffic signal outages here: https://data.mobility.austin.gov/signal-monitor?x=-97.733699&y=30.282308&z=10.81

For UT-Austin students who have lost power, Gregory Gym is open 10am-8pm, and the natatorium from 12-4pm today.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

ice storm, power outages

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