Winter storm expected to hit large portions of Texas beginning Wednesday
The season’s coldest weather so far is expected to affect major areas of Texas and has forecasters urging residents to avoid travel and take appropriate precautions.
Residents in most parts of Texas are being urged to hunker down starting Wednesday as an Artic blast is expected to blanket large swaths of the state.
The National Weather Service has issued alerts for North Texas, the Austin area, the Panhandle, Houston and West Texas as rain, ice or snow are expected to fall in some parts of the state as early as Wednesday. The cold snap is expected to last into Friday in some parts of the state.
Icy conditions in the Austin metropolitan area and the Central Texas Hill Country will make travel “difficult to near impossible” KUT reported Wednesday, citing a report from the National Weather Service.
The storm warning for Austin and the surrounding areas begins at 12 a.m. Thursday and lasts until 9 p.m. Ice accumulations could reach a quarter inch in areas under the weather warning, which includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
“In addition, winds could gust as high as 35 mph and produce wind chill values in the single digits and teens Thursday through Friday night,” the National Weather Service forecasts. More than two dozen area school districts will be closed Thursday with several also closing Friday, KUT reported. A list of those closures can be found here.
Meanwhile, Austin Community College is closed Thursday and Friday; St. Edward's University will shift to online classes and remote operations on Thursday and Friday; Huston-Tillotson University will shift to remote operations and online classes Thursday and Friday; and UT Austin will be closed on Thursday and classes will be canceled. The university says it will update the community Thursday afternoon about plans for Friday.
The Dallas/Fort Worth area is under a winter storm warning from 6 pm Wednesday through 6 pm Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The area is expected to see accumulations of ice up to half an inch with sleet and snow accumulations between 1 to 3 inches, the NWS reported.
According to the forecast: “Travel will be dangerous. Hazardous travel conditions will impact the tail end of the Wednesday evening commute and the Thursday morning and evening commute. Wind chills as low as 5 below zero could result in hypothermia if precautions are not taken. Power outages and tree damage will be possible due to ice.”
Several school districts in North Texas have also announced closures for Thursday, while some will close both Thursday and Friday, KERA reported. They include Dallas ISD and Garland ISD, which will be closed Thursday and Friday. Crowley, DeSoto, Duncanville and Everman ISDs are also closed Thursday and Friday.
All in-person classes will be cancelled Thursday and Friday at Dallas College but online classes will continue and virtual student services will remain available.
In El Paso, high temperatures aren’t expected to reach above 32 degrees Thursday with lows in the teens forecasted through Friday, according to Wednesday’s midday forecast. Strong wind gusts are also expected as rain late Wednesday turns to snow. The area could see accumulations up to three inches, according to forecasters.
The University of Texas-El Paso also announced adjustments to its schedule. “While main roads should be clear by late Thursday morning, black ice will be a danger and side roads may not be clear,” officials said in an email. “We’ve decided to move all activities at UTEP during the workday Thursday, February 3, 2022, to remote operations.”
The cold front will also drop temperatures in Houston and Southeast Texas. A weather advisory has been issued for Trinity, Walker, San Jacinto, Montgomery, Waller, Inland Harris, Wharton and Fort Bend counties, according to the National Weather Service. The advisory is in effect beginning Thursday afternoon and extends until Friday morning.
“Temperatures are going to drop rather quickly so when we wake up (Thursday) morning it will be about 40 degrees,” Space City meteorologist Eric Berger told Houston Matters. According to the National Weather Service: “A mix of light freezing rain and ice pellets (are) possible for these areas and ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch is possible.”
Freezing rain fell in Marfa and the Permian Basin Wednesday as officials there warned of “dangerous travel conditions and bitterly cold temperatures through the rest of the week,” Marfa Public Radio reported.
“Forecasters are warning that travel would continue to be dangerous through the end of the week, as temperatures are not expected to climb above freezing for many areas until Saturday,” the station reported. “Wind chills could drop to as low as the single digits, or even into the negatives, early Thursday and Friday mornings, the National Weather Service said.”
Several roadways west and North of Abilene and in North Texas have already been affected by the winter storm, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. A map of current conditions in those areas shows low visibility due to high winds or accumulations of ice on roadways. A map of current road conditions can be found here.
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