In response to this week's record-breaking cold snap, Austin-area leaders delivered an update on the condition of local roads, warming shelters and the power grid Jan. 15.

The snap carries what local meteorologists expect to be the coldest temperatures of the winter season.

The takeaway

Mayor Kirk Watson said residents should focus on two major things throughout the cold snap: conserving energy and avoiding all unnecessary travel.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking residents to conserve energy from 6-9 a.m. Jan. 16. Officials recommend residents lower their thermostat by a few degrees and utilize fireplaces for heating, if possible. More information on the grid is available here.

Richard Mendoza, director of Austin’s Transportation and Public Works Department, said about 30 roads have been treated with an anti-icing agent, and crews are working 12-hour shifts to manage ice on bridges and respond to any signal outages.

“If you can stay home today, please do so because while many of [the roads] are passable, we want to make sure that our emergency crews are able to be out there that we're not causing unnecessary wrecks that cause additional strain on our emergency crews,” Travis County Judge Andy Brown said.

What else?

Austin has six cold shelters open for anyone in need of a warm place to sleep until Jan. 17. Watson said the shelters have been operating “very efficiently,” as they housed about 400 people and seven dogs on the night of Jan. 14.

Residents can register to stay at a shelter at the One Texas Center at 505 Barton Springs Road, Austin, from 5-8 p.m. Anyone needing shelter after 8 p.m. can call 311 or 512-974-2000 and will be picked up within an hour. Austin also has three daytime warming shelters from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.:
  • Little Walnut Creek Branch, 835 W Rundberg Lane, Austin
  • Ruiz Branch, 1600 Grove Blvd., Austin
  • Terrazas Branch, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin

Quote of note

“We're hearing reports that in some cases, some of these folks are being picked up in near [hypothermic conditions],” said Ken Snipes, Austin Homeland Security and Emergency Management director. “So we encourage people to consider getting to a shelter early. Please don't wait.”