How Bad Was the "Ice Hurricane," Really?

A little context for what feels like a recurring event


Photo by Jana Birchum

As of Wednesday morning, the city office of Homeland Security and Emergency Manage­ment counted 99% of AE customers with their power back – meaning about 2,600 without (almost 1,000 of those in the 78757 and 78758 ZIP codes in North Central Austin). Outages on critical load circuits have all been restored; those still in the dark have the most complicated outages that will require the most time to fix. Rain and high winds this week have added to that burden.

Ice totals reached .69 inches in Austin during the worst of the storm, which on an average-sized tree can weigh several tons. Though the weather has warmed significantly and will be sunny going into the weekend, there is another possible freeze this weekend.

Unlike two years ago during Winter Storm Uri, Austin Water retained service with the use of backup generators throughout the storm. West Lake Hills issued a localized boil water notice affecting some 40 people.

With some approaching a second week without power, AE has been hosting phone charging buses at the Toney Burger Center.

Travis County partnered with the Central Texas Food Bank to distribute food at multiple locations across the county throughout the weekend and Monday evening, serving over 1,100 households.

The Austin Transportation Department reported five traffic signals still down as of Wednesday; at the peak of the storm, 118 signals, about 40% of the total, were out of service. Temporary stop signs remain installed at Exposition and Westover, Davis and Brodie Lane, West 45th and Ramsey, and MLK and Comal.

From Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, Emergency Medical Services reported 2,937 total incidents, including 254 traffic collisions, 312 falls, and 271 respiratory calls. Last Friday, Austin/Travis County EMS Chief Robert Luckritz counted at least one traffic death from the first night of the freeze and said that, as in Winter Storm Uri, carbon monoxide exposures were a concern.

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