AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This article is no longer updating. For Sunday's blog, click here.
For the third day in a row in the Austin area, a wintry weather forecast is creating icy road conditions Saturday.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began to pretreat bridges and overpasses on major Austin roads on Wednesday in preparation for the expected icy conditions. Even so, dozens of crashes have been reported throughout the area since Thursday morning.
Because the surface temperatures are so cold, officials are warning about a thin layer of ice that has formed on many roads due to the drizzly weather. This means that all roads, not just overpasses and bridges, are potentially dangerous.
Drivers are being urged to stay home. But if you must drive, you can check for real-time roadway conditions in your area on DriveTexas.org.
Here's a look at what we're seeing on the roads today.
11:05 p.m. - Due to increasing icy conditions leading to several accidents, portions of I-35 in Kyle will be closing. Motorists will be detoured on the adjacent access roads.
3:30 p.m. - All flyovers connecting I-35 and SH 45 are closed.
1 p.m. - Round Rock police said Gattis School Road is currently closed between Windy Park and Greenlawn due to a collision. It is estimated to reopen in 60 minutes.
11:55 a.m. - A car has rolled over in the 10000 block of Southwest Parkway, pinning a person in the car. That person is now being taken to the hospital.
11:24 a.m. - Four firefighters with Pedernales FD were taken to the hospital after a fire truck rolled over in the ice.
10:22 a.m. - MoPac southbound before Braker Lane has been reduced to one lane.
10:20 a.m. - The entrance ramps from Louis Henna Boulevard to SH 45 are currently closed, Round Rock police said.
10:16 a.m. - Icy road conditions have been reported on the west and northwest portions of Williamson County, officials said.
9:17 a.m. - MoPac southbound at Fifth Street and Cesar Chavez Street is closed due to ice conditions on Lady Bird Bridge.
8:29 a.m. - The 183A Toll southbound is closed at Avery Ranch Road due to icy conditions.
8:25 a.m. - The direct connect from MoPac northbound to U.S. 183 is closed due to icy conditions.
8:24 a.m. - APD has closed MoPac Expressway southbound from Braker Lane to US 183 due to a crash.
8:15 a.m. - Bastrop County officials are reporting 16 crashes across the area this morning due to icy conditions on all roadways.
8:02 a.m. - Until 3 p.m., State Highway 71's eastbound main lane has been reduced to one lane from Montopolis to US 183.
7:36 a.m. - The National Weather Service is warning about "difficult-to-see ice on the roads this morning. "When surface temperatures are below freezing, drizzle will form a thin layer of ice on the roads. This difficult-to-see ice can cause very dangerous travel conditions. When it’s drizzling, slow down, don’t use cruise control, and keep your distance from other vehicles."
6:41 a.m. - Emergency crews have been reporting to numerous crashes throughout the city Saturday morning. Austin FD said surface roads have begun to ice over in addition to the flyovers.
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.