Emergency first responders and other public agencies around the San Antonio area said Jan. 30 they are gearing up the possibility of freezing rain and other wintry weather resulting from an arctic front that is affecting much of the central part of the country.
The National Weather Service-Austin/San Antonio office on Jan. 30 issued a winter storm watch across eight counties, including Bexar County, and a winter storm warning across more than one dozen counties north of Bexar County.
According to NWS Austin/San Antonio, residents in Austin and the Hill Country expected to see initial roadway effects from the cold front later Jan. 30, but more significant precipitation is forecast to arrive in South Central Texas the morning and evening of Jan. 31 and into early Feb. 1.
“Temperatures may not rise above freezing until [Feb. 1 afternoon] in some portions of the Hill Country. We may also need to re-evaluate the potential for freezing rain in areas south of I-10 and east of I-37 [Jan. 31 evening],” the weather service said.
The Texas Department of Transportation said it dispatched crews to begin roadway preparation ahead of any frozen precipitation.
Bexar County Public Works announced its roadway preparations, including eight tandem trucks equipped and loaded with deicing spreader boxes, a news release said.
The release said Bexar County Public Works has 140 tons of chat rock, used for roadways, and 300 tons of fine grade stone rock, used for residential areas, in stock to provide traction for vehicles.
The county also has two additional trailers loaded with barricades ready to deploy, the release said.
Bexar County officials also said all three public works service centers are equipped with chainsaws and pole saws to remove downed trees and tree limbs.
Chipper trucks to dispose of all trees and tree limbs, together with loaders/backhoes to remove big tree trunks from the roadway, are available as well, county officials said.
“We urge all residents to monitor local weather forecasts and report. Freezing rain can be extremely dangerous, and driving in the affected areas should only occur when absolutely necessary and with extreme caution,” the county said.
For now, county officials said all county offices remain open for business as usual.
CPS Energy urged customers to be careful when using fuel-burning heating equipment to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
In terms of power supply, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it is monitoring weather conditions and “expects sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand.”
San Antonio Water System said it is reminding customers to protect their exterior water pipes and take other precautions in the case of severe wintry weather.
The city of San Antonio is encouraging residents to check on family, friends and neighbors, bring and keep pets indoors or provide a warm shelter for them outdoors, and protect outdoor plants.
Alamo Colleges District said it is closing all campuses from 4 p.m. Jan. 30 through 9 a.m. Jan. 31, adding faculty may choose to pivot to holding classes remotely in alignment with the winter weather schedule.
North East ISD said it will make a decision about any school closures by 5 a.m. Jan. 31, adding nearly one-third of district staff lives in northern Bexar County.