AUSTIN (KXAN) — Roads could refreeze overnight after another hard freeze. Most interstates and highways seem passable but with icy spots. It’s best to go slow if you have to get out on the road.
The biggest issue facing people today — no water or very little water. A boil water notice remains in effect for the entire city of Austin. That is expected to last multiple days.
Power generations is improving at the state level, and that is allowing electric utilities to restore power to most of their customers. The ones still without power are generally the result of infrastructure problems — like downed power lines — due to the snow and ice storms.
Top 3 biggest stories right now
Helpful links as we weather the final few days of this winter storm and its impact:
On Friday, Williamson County confirmed the death of a 64-year-old man that occurred during the winter storms.
“Unfortunately, we can attribute at least one loss of life to this weather event,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell in a press release.
No other details were immediately available.
Williamson County confirms death of 64-year-old man during winter storms
Gov. Abbott issued waivers to suspend certain regulations so the preparation and delivery of food for Texans can go smoother. People and groups will be able to use unlicensed kitchens to prepare meals for Texans, as long as they follow Texas Department of State Health Services guidance on food safety.
Here are the latest number for Austin Fire Department responses for the past 24 hours (noon 2/18 – noon 2/19).
Collisions/Rescues: 32/0Wires arcing/down: 41Public Assist: 44Alarm Activation: 158Fires: 6Broken Water Pipes: 186
Total 911 calls for service for AFD jurisdictions: 1,160
Total 911 calls for service for Travis Co.: 321
The latest from the White House on its help for Texas, from Communications Director Jen Psaki:
The President, as you know, spoke late in the evening with Texas Governor Greg Abbott — we put out that readout late last night — about the severe storms facing central and southern parts of the United States, including Texas. He reiterated that the federal government will continue to work hand in hand with state and local authorities in Texas to bring relief and address the critical needs of the families affected.
As you heard him convey this morning, he will have a call with the Acting FEMA Administrator later this afternoon, which we will provide you all a readout of. He has asked his team to expedite the request made by the leaders in Texas.
The process — how it works is that they send that request to FEMA, FEMA does an assessment; it then goes to our team in the White House under Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall. He’s asked for that to be expedited, and we will look to approve that and get them the relief and resources as quickly as possible.
We expect that the initial focus will be on the counties that are most impacted and prioritized by FEMA, but we will see as it goes through and is expedited through the process.
As Austin Public Works crews clear ice and snow from the roads, Director Richard Mendoza said people may see more potholes around town.
Potholes form due to the expansion and contraction of groundwater under the roads. Water expands as it freezes, which can cause the road to crack or degrade.
If you see any potholes or downed trees, you can report them to Austin 311. Right now its app is preferred since phone lines are very busy.
Public Works crews cleared off 180 lane miles so far and treated 28 area bridges multiple times. They have also cleared off some sidewalks and crosswalks and removed large tree limbs, as well as sanded roads.
Until the ice melts fully on roads, Mendoza recommends people only make necessary trips and stick to larger roads that have been cleared.
The Transportation Department is also working to restore power to more than 1,000 traffic signals around town. If you see a signal is out, or flashing, treat it as a four-way stop.
All Central Texas H-E-B stores are open and have power, the grocery chain said Friday.
“Although some Austin-area stores are still without water or are under a boil notice, rest assured we have food safety protocols in place to safely operate these stores. While we hope to be fully operational in the next few days, the safety of our Partners and customers remains our highest priority,” it said.
Hundreds of trucks are headed to Austin to restock. It could take a few days to be fully stocked again., so H-E-B asks customers to only buy what they need.
The H-E-B Newsroom has more details on limits and store hours. Stores close at 5 p.m. Friday but open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Austin Water is making “good progress” to restore water pressure throughout Austin, according to Director Greg Meszaros. He feels confident most homes without water will see that restored in the next 48 hours.
Meszaros said reservoirs are about a third full, with 35 million to 40 million gallons in them so far. They’ve been able to establish service in the critical “central zone” of the city and are working to bring up the water pressure to the north and south. It has a map it keeps updated with outage information.
READ THE FULL UPDATE: Boil water notice, billing help from Austin Water
The City of Austin is delivering updates on the ongoing water and power crisis.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the following since the winter weather started:
91 collisions34 assisted citizens138 welfare concerns323 911 hang-ups203 traffic incidents
TOTAL – 1,792 calls
For the jail, they also had to move inmates around to follow the heat and provided blankets, mattresses and food.
EMS saw a 90% increase in calls with 842 calls for service. The second biggest reason for calls was for falls. They are still seeing a high number of calls Friday despite conditions improving.
Williamson County announced that one person died during the past week from the sub-freezing temperatures. KXAN is working to learn more.
Williamson County commissioners are giving an update on the impact of winter weather. Williamson County also is providing a list of resources for those in the community.
These include warming centers, oxygen condenser battery recharging station for those who depend on oxygen, and water filling stations.
All of that info is available here.
Neighbors are helping neighbors! Some local businesses are supporting our community members by offering boiled, potable water.
➡️For a list of resources visit: https://t.co/LgFNBwS0m9.
— Williamson County (@wilcogov) February 18, 2021
There is intermittent service issues for Manville Water customers in Pflugerville due to the “overnight freezing temperatures and additional electric failures.” Manville says crews are working on those issues now in hopes of stabilizing the system.
They ask people to continue to conserve and boil water.
Alert from Manville WSC: Manville customers are currently experiencing intermittent service due to overnight freezing temperatures and additional electric failures. Crews continue to address the failures as they occur in hopes of stabilizing the system. https://t.co/tHjuTLms46
— Pflugerville, TX (@PflugervilleTX) February 19, 2021
TxDOT crews are still working to clear Austin-area roads. They tweeted that crews have been working “night and day.” They ask people to drive slowly and give TxDOT crews room to work.
Capital Metro says all of its routes are operating at limited service levels except for a small number of routes it listed in the following tweet:
As of 11 a.m., all routes are operating today at significantly limited service levels EXCEPT for those listed below.
Be aware that this information is subject to change. We apologize for the uncertainty and ask for your patience.
Stay updated at https://t.co/nEv63G1BUF. pic.twitter.com/VVshKTPqj7
— Capital Metro (@CapMetroATX) February 19, 2021
Austin police say officers are working nonstop and some even sleeping at police headquarters as they try to this historic winter storm.
“Officers have been sleeping on cots at different police station buildings to ensure they’re able to make it to work on time and respond to emergency calls,” APD said in a tweet.
APD added that it knows many healthcare, fire, EMS and utility works are doing the same thing. They ask people to please be patient with those working to help them.
Our officers are committed to keeping you safe and have been working around the clock, even if that means they’re unable to safely go home to their families. pic.twitter.com/OntHLB8Roo
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) February 19, 2021
Power outages are up slightly now compared to earlier this morning. As of 11:30 a.m., 40,618 people are without power in Central Texas:
Austin Energy – 22,223 customers without power (Up about 6,000)
Oncor – 10,105 customers without power in Central Texas
Pedernales Electric Cooperative – 1,449 customers without power in Central Texas
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative – 1 customer without power in Central Texas
Central Texas Electric Cooperative – 6,840 customers without power in Central Texas
If you’re hoping to go to the Costco in the Arbor Trails Shopping Center in southwest Austin, you should get in line now.
Helen Fiske sent us this video showing the line wrapping around the building and filtering out into the parking lot. It opened at 9:30 a.m., and it’s the first day the store has been open since the winter storm hit the area.
ERCOT has officially went back to operations as normal and grid reserves have been replenished, they said in an email. If your power is still out, contact your local utility and see what the issue is. As of 10:22 a.m., Austin Energy is reporting 22,111 customers without power.
KXAN photojournalist Frank Martinez went out to Elgin and took some pictures at a CVS that had to rush to give people COVID-19 vaccinations before they expired. The store lost power and couldn’t keep the vaccine doses cold enough.
The vaccines needed to be given by 10:30 a.m.
KXAN photo/Frank Martinez)KXAN photo/Frank Martinez)KXAN photo/Frank Martinez)
There are a number of food distribution sites where you can get food later today if you are hungry. They include:
1:30 p.m. – Dove Springs Recreation Center2 p.m. – Dailey Middle School2:30 p.m. – Navarro High School2:30 p.m. – Millennium Center
Austin City Council Member Greg Casar also says trucks of emergency water are on the way. More details will be sent later about that.
🚨🥕Emergency Food Distribution ATX 🍞🚨
Navarro High School (1201 Payton Gin Rd)- 2:30p
Millennium Center (1156 Hargrave)- 2:30p
Dove Springs Rec Ctr (5801 Ainez)- 1:30p
Dailey Middle (14000 Westall)- 2p
Trucks of emergency water on the way, distribution operation coming soon.
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) February 19, 2021
Texas State Rep. Celia Israel says that the CVS in Elgin lost power, putting 200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at risk of spoiling. She said they must be administered in the next 35 minutes. She said if you’re in the area, you can stop by to get vaccinated.
Alert! The CVS in Elgin Texas lost power and they have 200 covid doses that must be administered by 10:30 THIS Morning. If you are in the area… #COVID19
— Celia Israel (@CeliaIsrael) February 19, 2021
Austin ISD Police say Zavala Elementary School has been added as a warming center from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The 183A toll is still closed in Cedar Park!
Cedar Park Police say crews are trying to make it ready for people to drive on, but several cars have driven around the barricade, which makes it dangerous both for them and for crews working on the road.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport says its transportation shuttle running between the South Terminal and the main Barbara Jordan terminal has resumed. On-site parking is also available at the South Terminal.
For passengers needing transportation between the South Terminal and Barbara Jordan Terminal, our inter-terminal shuttle service has resumed service. On-site parking is available at the South Terminal for Frontier and Allegiant passengers https://t.co/o2lJeDPn7u https://t.co/hVU9WACYCJ
— ABIA Parking (@ABIA_Parking) February 19, 2021
A third person has died from the house fire Wednesday. The Austin Fire Department says the victim was a 91-year-old woman they initially rescued from the fire who had critical injuries.
A person who rented a room attached to the house that burned said the six people inside were using a gas stove to heat the home due to the power being out and temperatures below freezing for so long.
A fire has killed two people on E. 12th Street in east Austin on Feb. 17, 2021. (KXAN Photo / Todd Bynum)
Austin Water says storage at its facilities is rising up to 32 million gallons as of Friday at 9 a.m. and climbing. They also showed a graph where you can see the huge increase in water use and the resulting decline in our system storage. Our system storage at one point fell from approximately 115 million gallons to about 12 million gallons.
For a healthy system, we need to maintain a minimum of 100 million gallons in storage. Today, we are at 32 million gallons and climbing. This graph shows where we are today in terms of our water production, customer demand or usage, and how much we have stored in reservoirs. pic.twitter.com/ruMHUUanbh
— Austin Water (@AustinWater) February 19, 2021
A look at the current conditions on RM 2222 at Tumbleweed Hill. Julie says drivers are making it up the hill but they can’t proceed down. Crews are in heavy equipment working to clear the road. Stay safe. pic.twitter.com/8jEL7x79Op
— Amanda Dugan (@mandydugan) February 19, 2021
KXAN Chief Meteorologist David Yeomans wrote a weather blog entry saying to keep Mother Earth’s popsicle out of your mouth.
That’s right. You probably did it as a kid, or maybe as an adult — licked an icicle. And while you’re probably OK now, you should probably think twice before doing it again.
Yeomans explains why in his blog, but in short, that icicle probably has bird poop in it. Gross.
ERCOT says grid operators expect to end emergency operations by the end of the day Friday.
The state’s power grid administrator says energy consumption is much high Friday morning than it was at the same time Thursday, there is still enough power to handle the morning peak demand.
We will stream a call with ERCOT officials at 10:30 a.m.
No additional outages overnight, although a few generating units tripped. Energy consumption is much higher this morning compared to yesterday, but there is sufficient power to serve load over morning peak. Grid operator expects to come out of emergency conditions later today.
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) February 19, 2021
More and more people are having power restored as the morning goes on, but there are still thousands without.
Austin Energy — 15,984 customers without power
Oncor — 15,808
Pedernales — 613
CTEC — 7,436
Bluebonnet Electric reports that all of its customers have power.
Photographer Julie Karam is checking out the roads on KXAN News today in the WX Tahoe. So far she’s traveled I-35, SH 130 & SH 45N. She confirms I-35 & SH 130 looked great and SH 45N has dry stretches w/ icy patches.
— Amanda Dugan (@mandydugan) February 19, 2021
A dog was chasing our KXAN photographer, who rescued it. (KXAN Photo)
A puppy was chasing a KXAN photographer and ran right up to her. The temperature was just 20 degrees in Steiner Ranch at the time.
We have more on the puppy and how to contact us if you think this might be your dog.
As of 5 a.m. Friday, there are still 40,520 people without power across Central Texas. The most outages are in Travis (16,508), Williamson (9,419) and Gillespie (6,932) counties.
Austin Energy – 16,508 customers without power
Oncor – 15,866 customers without power in Central Texas
Pedernales Electric Cooperative – 816 customers without power in Central Texas
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative – All power back on
Central Texas Electric Cooperative – 7,330 customers without power in Central Texas
10:35 p.m. Thursday
President Joe Biden spoke with Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday night to talk about ways the federal government can help with the state’s recovery.
“I made clear to the Governor that I’ll work relentlessly to get his state what they need,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
Tonight, I called Governor Greg Abbott to discuss the ongoing situation in Texas and identify ways we can support the state’s recovery from this storm. I made clear to the Governor that I’ll work relentlessly to get his state what they need. pic.twitter.com/UBwH8DMep2
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 19, 2021
10:15 p.m. Thursday
Two trucks of bottled water are scheduled to arrive in Central Texas on Friday morning to help people in need, according to Travis County Judge Andy Brown.
Travis County Judge says trucks of water are heading to Central Texas