11:50 p.m. Thursday update: Freezing temperatures and more snow are possible late Thursday into early Friday across Central Texas, the National Weather Service said.
Motorists may hit icy roads through 8 or 9 a.m. Friday, meteorologists said, and authorities urged caution as the slick and dangerous ice might not be visible.
Austin police said they were responding to several crashes Thursday night and asked drivers to remain off the roads if possible. Texas Department of Transportation and city of Austin crews were treating roads, wet overpasses and bridges on Thursday to prevent icing.
Any area that saw snowfall Thursday evening could see more snow Friday morning, the weather service said. The heavier snow is expected to shift east of the I-35 corridor, where an additional 1 to 1 ½ inches might fall overnight.
So far, a total of 1.3 inches of snow was recorded at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and 0.4 inches at Camp Mabry, according to officials with the National Weather Service.
This is the most snow the airport has seen in recent years, said meteorologists with the weather service. The highest recent total at the airport was 0.7 inches on Feb. 14, 2004 (there are numerous data gaps in the airport’s snow record prior to 1999).
The most snowfall recorded in recent years at Camp Mabry is 0.9 inches, which fell on Feb. 4, 2011, the weather service said.
The wintry weather stalled traffic along Interstate 35 and other major roadways, and prompted delays and cancellations in Austin-area schools.
Several flights arriving to or departing from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were also canceled or delayed Thursday.
As of 11 p.m., four arrival flights were waiting to pull into the gate as crews de-iced the tarmac. Airport officials could not say how many departures were waiting on the tarmac, or for how long. More than 50 arriving and departing flights had canceled or delayed throughout the day.
The changes frustrated travelers, with some reporting having to wait on the plane for more than four hours while airport crews de-iced the runway.
8 p.m. update: The Texas Department of Transportation is reporting heavy congestion and traffic stalls along Interstate 35 in both directions as snow continues to fall across the Austin metro area.
In the last 30 minutes, stalls have been reported in Austin near Aquarena Springs, Parmer Lane and Rundberg Lane, accordingt to TxDOT. Traffic stalls have also been reported in Buda, San Marcos and Jarrell.
At the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, several arriving and departing flights have been either canceled or delayed. It was unclear how many of those changes were due to the weather, but outbound flights are being de-iced as a precautionary measure, airport officials said.
A winter weather advisory is still in effect through midnight. Drivers should expect slippery roads and limited visibility.
7:20 p.m. update: The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory through midnight for Central Texas and the Hill Country.
Forecasters say snow accumulations of up to one inch are expected in the area, which might cause travel difficulties. Up to 1.2 inches or snow have been reported at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Drivers should expect slippery roads and limited visibility, the weather service said.
The icy weather has prompted Austin Community College to cancel all its classes for the rest of Thursday evening, officials said. ACC will provide updates on any other cancellations or delays through social media, officials said.
In Hays County, classes at the Wimberley school district will be have a late start Friday due to the weather. Classes will start at 10 a.m., the school district said.
5:50 p.m. update: Snow moving west from the Hill Country has now reached Austin.
What started as a mixture of snow and rain has been replaced by light and heavy snow flurries throughout the Austin metro area.
The weather radar shows snow falling from New Braunfels to Williamson County, and stretching to the west along Interstate 10.
Forecasters expect some snow accumulation to accumulate in the band from Uvalde to Boerne to Austin. The band is expected to slowly move south and east, with smaller sections breaking away to the northeast, they said.
4:30 p.m. update: The National Weather Service has received reports of snow flurries across the Austin area.
Accumulations are not expected as precipitation rates are too low and ground temperatures remain above freezing, the weather service says.
Meanwhile, Austin Water is offering these tips to help homeowners protect their property and prevent water loss from frozen or broken water pipes. The city utility recommends:
Before the freeze happens . . .
• Wrap all exposed pipes outside or in unheated areas of the home.
• Remove garden hoses from outside faucets.
• Cover vents around the foundation of your home.
• Know where your cut-off valve is located and how to use it. The valve is located adjacent to the water meter box under a 6-inch metal lid.
When it’s below freezing . . .
• Drip outside faucets at a rate of 5 drops per minute. But the utility says this is not necessary unless temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least 4 hours.
• Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.
• In unheated garages, shut off water to washing machines.
• In sustained sub-freezing weather, let water drip slowly from inside faucets.
• Take extra precautions to protect pipes that have frozen in the past.
Austin Water has a 24-hour emergency hotline at 512-972-1000; and more information is available at austinwater.org.
3:15 p.m. update: Freezing temperatures across Central Texas are expected Thursday night, the National Weather Service warns, and drivers should be mindful of dangerous black ice forming the roads.
Forecasters say any roadways exposed to wet weather, such as bridges, overpasses and service roads could be vulnerable to black ice.
The Hill Country and areas along the Interstate 35 corridor as far south as New Braunfels may experience a hard freeze tonight, the weather service says.
Temperatures should drop below freezing around or just past midnight, first in the Hill Country, then later across the I-35 corridor, forecasters say. Some snow flurries could fall overnight but only far south of the Austin metro area, south of I-10 and east of I-37.
During a hard freeze, forecasters say, exposed pipes could break. Residents should bring sensitive plants and pets indoors.
Hyperthermia also is a risk for older residents or younger children who may be exposed to extremely cold temperatures for an extended amount of time, the weather service says.
Thursday forecast for Austin: Lingering cold temperatures from Tuesday’s cold front and moisture streaming into Central Texas from the Pacific via Mexico could bring a “wintry mix” of precipitation across much of the region, the National Weather Service warns.
This combination of rain and snow is expected to largely fall across the northern and western parts of the region, but the National Weather Service included Austin in its weather advisory Thursday morning.
But the weather service noted that the ground — still warm from the last few weeks of above-normal heat — means that any snow that falls should melt on contact, said Nick Hampshire, a meteorologist with the weather service. No accumulations are expected.
“We should have a pretty good freeze tonight,” Hampshire said. “Other than that, the rain will be slowly clearing from north to south today.”
High temperatures in Austin should reach into the upper 40s Thursday afternoon. It will be chilly overnight, with lows expected to dive into the upper 20s.
However, the weather should improve markedly, beginning on Friday, when the sun is expected to reemerge. Highs Saturday and Sunday are expected to return to the 60s, while lows should remain in the 30s.
“This weekend looks really nice,” Hampshire said.
Here are highlights from the extended weather service forecast:
- Thursday: ‘Wintry mix’ possible this morning as high temperatures should reach 48 degrees in the city, before dropping to 29 overnight as the clouds and rain clear out.
- Friday: Sunny, with a high of 55 degrees and a low of 36.
- Saturday: More sun, with a high of 66 degrees with a low of 36.
- Sunday: Continued sun, with a high of 63 degrees and a low of 38.
- Monday: High of 69 degrees with a low of 42.