AUSTIN, Texas — According to Travis County and the National Weather Service, Central Texas could expect a pretty normal "Texas" winter. Drier conditions and above-average temperatures are forecasted, but any meteorologist will tell you that nothing is guaranteed.
Meteorologists were given only weeks warning ahead of the 2021 winter storms that swept the state and killed more than 200 people.
Travis County safety and emergency personnel gathered on Tuesday for a briefing on how they are prepping for the next big storm. County commissioners heard from Emergency Services, the Office of Emergency Management and other County departments and Emergency Services Districts.
Preparedness activities include water and food stockpile distribution, plans to address ice and snow accumulation on county-managed roadways and better preparing county facilities to handle extreme weather.
Currently, the County has 100 pallets of 10-year water, totaling to 90,000 liters. It additionally has 16 pallets of heater meals, totaling to 12,720 meals.
County transportation services officials spoke on having additional staff and equipment distributed, such as tire cables.
The Park Services Department is making efforts to come up with snow and ice plans for the roads, but is having trouble finding a brine supplier. In the meantime, the department will have to depend on other means to treat roadways.
County staff have also engaged in weather emergency response courses.
KVUE spoke to several Travis County residents. All of them said they have made different preparations in their own homes.
Tom Webb lived in Austin before moving to Utah, then eventually found his way back to Central Texas right before the February 2021 storm.
He has since moved into a new home where a closet is strictly designated for "more blankets than [he] could ever need," and is in the process of installing a backup power generator in his home.
Webb said he and his family were relatively spared during the winter storm, but his colleagues could not say the same. He used his electricity to make warm meals and deliver them to his coworkers, giving them time to also charge their electronics in his vehicle and warm up.
Webb described seeing people in "despair and near panic."
"You realize how quickly people’s lives go from normal to chaos, and then to a real sense of danger very, very quickly," Webb said.
Gerald Garcia has lived in Austin since the 1980s and has lived through several big weather events, such as floods, hurricanes, and winter storms.
"I went through a cold snap, a pretty severe one, in the 1989 time frame, I believe it was," Garcia recalled.
Garcia said he pays mind to what government officials do to better prepare the public ahead of weather events. He said the public should vote on leaders who have plans they can thoroughly explain to them, especially when it regards public safety.
"Ask to explain to you what they’re doing, what has been done, what systems have been tested, what plans have been made, what preparations are in place for these eventualities," Garcia said. "They will happen. It may not happen for many years, but it will happen eventually."
To watch Tuesday's Travis County Commissioner's Court meeting where they discuss winter storm preparedness, click here.