Winter Weather Update - 1/15/24

Only City Council members and authorized staff are allowed to post on this message board.
Colleen Pate
Posts: 99
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2023 1:22 pm

Winter Weather Update - 1/15/24

Post by Colleen Pate »

Council Members:

Because of the winter weather and our efforts related to it, I delayed going to D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. I'll be at the Work Session in the morning at 9:00 AM.

I also want to update you a little bit about the weather and what’s going on. We’ve now experienced some of the coldest temperatures on record for our area, and unfortunately, we’re not through.

Hard Freeze Warning
The National Weather Service has issued a “Hard Freeze Warning” through Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.  Forecasts call for record-breaking periods of prolonged sub-freezing temperatures with values as low as 10 to 15 degrees, with some areas possibly reaching negative windchills. The lowest wind chills are expected tomorrow morning. It will be dry and cold.  If wind chills dip below zero degrees, the NWS may need to issue a Wind Chill Warning. There is risk for hypothermia and frostbite for those not properly dressed or exposed to the cold air and wind.  

Roadways
The good news is that reports indicate our roadways are clear, as both our City Transportation & Public Works Department as well as the Texas Department of Transportation have been hard at work pre-prepping our roadways – particularly bridges and elevated flyovers -- in anticipation of the freezing drizzle and possible ice accumulation. They’ve done a good job.

Schools
Some area school districts have decided to close (Del Valle, Hays Consolidated) and the Austin Independent School District has decided to adjust its start time to two hours later.  We anticipate other districts will follow this. As a result, the Interim City Manager has already notified Departments that while the City will open as usual tomorrow, departments have the flexibility of working with staff to time arrivals based on individual circumstances.

Shelters & Warming Centers
The Homeless Strategy Office in cooperation with the Parks & Recreation Department, continues to operate six cold weather shelters to serve individuals experiencing homelessness. These shelters will remain open through Wednesday morning, and we continue to coordinate transportation options to warming centers and shelters if individuals are unable to procure their own transportation.  

During this storm, we’ve welcomed over 400 people in need of overnight shelter. I had the opportunity to visit a few of the shelters today and got to thank staff and volunteers for working so hard to help our most vulnerable neighbors.

Critical updates about shelter and warming center operations, including a warming center map, are available at austintexas.gov/alerts in 14 languages.     
                                   
Electric Grid
ERCOT has issued a Conservation Appeal for Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 6 – 10 a.m. Central Time. Operating reserves are expected to be low tomorrow morning due to continued freezing temperatures, record-breaking demand, and unseasonably low wind. Businesses and residents are encouraged to conserve electricity use, if it’s safe to do so. At this time, if someone is experiencing an outage, it’s local in nature and not related to grid reliability. 

There are conservation tips at austinenergy.com/winter.  Grid conditions may shift from normal to emergency with little to no notice. For the latest information on the ERCOT grid, people can visit ercot.com/txans. 

  
Thanks to Staff
Our professional staff has been excellent during this significant event. I hope we will all give them our thanks.

Let me know if I can provide you with more information. See you tomorrow.

Kirk

On behalf of Mayor Watson
Chief of Staff, Mayor Watson's Office