TEXAS, USA — Editor's note: This live blog is no longer updating. For road and services closures, check out KVUE's Friday, Feb. 19, live blog.
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.
A look at road and services closures for Feb. 18:
7:30 p.m. – Austin curbside trash and recycling collection starts Friday for those scheduled on Friday. Crews may take longer than usual due to road conditions. Download the Recycles ATX app for the most up-to-date information on your collection services.
3:50 p.m. – From midnight through noon on Thursday, AFD has responded to:
- Collisions: 7
- Wires arcing/down: 19
- Public assist: 20
- Alarm activation: 90
- Fires: 4
- Broken water pipes: 80
3:30 p.m. – All Central Texas Food Bank food distributions scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19, have been canceled. The Food Bank will resume operations on Saturday with a mass food distribution at Del Valle High School.
The Friday cancelations include:
- Mobile Food Pantry in Dale
- Mobile Food Pantry in Lott
- Mobile Food Pantry in Waldeck
- Mobile Food Pantry at the Austin VA
- Children’s Meal distribution at Montopolis Recreation Center in Austin
The Mobile Food Pantry scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, in Kyle has also been canceled.
The Saturday mass food distribution event at Del Valle High School will be held from noon to 3 p.m. This is a change from the originally announced time of 9 a.m. to noon.
Here, the Central Texas Food Bank will distribute free food to help those who are facing food insecurity. Attendees will receive emergency food boxes with an assortment of food items which will vary, depending on available supplies.
While this food distribution is primarily designed as a drive-thru event, no one in need of food will be turned away. Recipients who are driving through are requested to make appropriate space in their trunks or hatches. Those arriving by public transportation or on foot should look for the designated walk-up area. Recipients without vehicles are urged bring containers in which they can carry the food, as it will be in boxes that may be difficult to carry.
2:30 p.m. – In a Thursday press conference, Austin Public Works officials said 70 crew members have been working 24 hours a day and have worked on196 lane miles of priority routes. Officials said they have 118 miles to address between now and mid-day tomorrow. Despite not having a snow plow, they're confident they will be able to accomplish their goals with the equipment they have: eight sanding spreaders, nine dump trucks, three motor graters and six front-end loaders.
Austin Public Works advised people not to travel – but if you must keep travel in day time hours and avoid elevated roadways.
8:25 a.m. – Round Rock police said that the Old Settlers Boulevard overpass over Interstate 35 remains closed.
8:15 a.m. – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said the truck blocking Interstate 35 lanes in Round Rock near McNeil Road has been cleared.
4:13 a.m. – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said northbound Interstate 35 were closed after RM 620 in Round Rock due to truck blocking the lanes. TxDOT said to take Exit 253 and detour to the frontage road.
4 a.m. – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said crews spent the overnight hours treating major roadways including Interstate 35 between Georgetown and Jarrell. TxDOT said the highway was cleared and traffic is moving. If you must travel, use extreme caution. Best advice is to avoid travel if possible this morning.
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.
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