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A historic winter storm has brought icy road conditions to Austin, Texas, forcing road closures. Many services are also shutting down as the city deals with power outages and dangerously cold temperatures.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began to pretreat bridges and overpasses on major Austin roads last week in preparation for the expected icy conditions. Even so, dozens of crashes have been reported in the days since then.
Officials are again warning residents to stay off the roads if they can because the snow that melted in the sun Monday likely froze overnight. All roads are slick. If you must drive, take it slow. If a signal is dark, treat it as a four-way stop.
Drivers are being urged to stay home. But if you must drive, you can check for road closures on this interactive map.
Here's a look at road and services closures in the Austin area Feb. 16.
8:20 p.m. – Capital Metro will continue suspending all services Wednesday, Feb. 17. This will be the third day in a row. Conditions have not improved today, and this evening's weather is expected to bring freezing rain that will make travel even more unsafe.
Capital Metro will continue focusing all efforts on emergency operations with the City of Austin to support those at cold weather shelters and those needing life-saving trips. Once conditions allow us to resume service this week, Capital Metro will continue to suspend fare collection through Sunday, Feb. 21.
8:10 p.m. – Hays County offices, parks, and recycling centers will be closed Wednesday, Feb. 17. Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said, “This combination of freezing temps, icy roadways, and inconsistent power lead the emergency management team to make the call to close our operations another day.”
Curative COVID-19 testing sites in Hays County have also closed operations through Wednesday; if conditions allow, they will open on Thursday, Feb. 18. Those with a scheduled COVID-19 second-dose Pfizer vaccine appointments at San Marcos High from Monday and Tuesday will now have their vaccine on Friday at the same time
4:40 p.m. – Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell says that 40% of the county is without power, a figure that fluctuates as the power outages move around. Gravell said that some residences have not been affected, but "when it is all said and done over 75% of our residents will have experienced an outage at one time or another."
"As the situation changes, we continue to adapt. We have seen volunteers stepping up and neighbors helping neighbors. I continue to be encouraged by the 'can do' attitude of our residents," Gravell said.
4:14 p.m. – There are reports of water pipes bursting near roadways.
1:46 p.m. – Lakeway Police is warning about RM 620 this afternoon. "Roads may look deceivingly better, but melting snow quickly refreezes and will likely do so overnight. Please stay off the roads if at all possible."
12:42 p.m. – For the safety of our clients, staff and volunteers, all Central Texas Food Bank food distributions scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17, have been canceled due to weather and road conditions. The Food Bank will be closed as well.
The cancelations include the Mobile Food Pantries scheduled for:
- Cameron, TX – Wednesday, Feb. 17
- Mexia, TX – Wednesday, Feb. 17
- LBJ High School, Austin, TX – Wednesday, Feb. 17
12:13 p.m. – All of Central Texas VA will be closed due to the weather? We will be calling Veterans to reschedule their appointments.
11:30 a.m. – All of The Caring Place's locations through Thursday, Feb. 18, will be closed. All scheduled programming is canceled. Staff and volunteers will not report to The Caring Place.
8:10 a.m. – All Capital Metro services are suspended Tuesday, Feb. 16, for the second day in a row.
7:50 a.m. – TxDOT in Austin is again urging drivers to stay home. "Record low temperatures aren’t helping road conditions. Our crews are working 24/7 to keep up; blading, then treating roads, bridges and overpasses."
6:50 a.m. – The Cedar Park Police Department is still dealing with phone line issues. 911 lines are being rerouted to Williamson County again. To get through to dispatchers for a non-emergency, you're asked to call 512-864-8282, press option one, then option one again.
6:11 a.m. – H-E-B stores will open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, the grocery chain said. The Central Market located on North Lamar Boulevard will reopen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the Central Market located on Westgate Boulevard will remain closed Tuesday.
5:13 a.m. – Officials are again warning residents to stay off the roads if you can because snow that melted in the sun Monday likely froze overnight. Roads are slick. If you must drive, take it slow. If a signal is dark, treat it as a four-way stop
5 a.m. – Fly over ramps are closed due to ice in Travis County on the Texas 45 Toll both eastbound and westbound at I-35.
4 a.m. – Austin ISD Police said its main dispatch number was operational again.
12 a.m. – City of Austin asks residents to stay off the roadways unless absolutely necessary, do not call 911 to report outages and continue to conserve as much energy as possible.
Tips on how to drive in wintry weather
TxDOT said drivers should follow these guidelines to keep themselves and others safe:
- Use caution when driving over bridges and overpasses, as these are the first to freeze.
- Reduce your speed. A vehicle needs at least three times more space to stop on a slick roadway. Don't apply the brakes suddenly, and avoid using cruise control.
- Slow down when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles, especially when their flashing lights are on. The law requires you to maintain a distance of at least 200 feet when approaching crews. Don't pass on the right, and remember visibility can also be reduced during winter weather conditions.
- Be patient. Keep to the main roads and avoid taking shortcuts through territory that may not have been treated.
- Winterize vehicles before traveling during adverse weather. Check fuel, tire, oil and antifreeze levels. Make sure the heater, brakes and windshield wipers are working properly.
- Check area weather conditions on radio or television before starting a trip.