Texas seeing ‘one of the most significant icing events’ in decades, governor says

Outages are caused by local issues, not statewide grid failure, Abbott says

FILE - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference along the Rio Grande, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. Political observers are watching whether Abbott will posthumously pardon George Floyd for a 2004 arrest before the end of the year. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) (Julio Cortez, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state is dealing with “one of the most significant icing events ... in at least several decades” during a news conference on Thursday.

Following a briefing with statewide officials, Abbott signed a proclamation covering 17 Texas counties to help speed up recovery efforts.

The icing has led to outages across the state as the accumulation has downed power lines and caused road closures.

The outages — affecting roughly 70,000 Texan households as of 11:30 a.m. — are local issues, Abbott said, and not a sign of a load shed event like the one that occurred during last year’s freeze.

“Anyone out of power at this time should call their local power provider,” Abbott said.

The state’s grid, operated by ERCOT, currently shows a surplus of energy capacity, and that is expected to persist even as energy demand is forecasted to peak on Friday morning. Officials say they are operating the grid more conservatively and have bolstered energy capacity ahead of the cold snap.

In San Antonio, roughly 26,000 CPS Energy were out of power around 11:30 a.m.

Check the outage map here.

Officials are also monitoring other potential issues that could be caused by the freeze, including bursting pipes and boil water notices. So far, state officials say no major events have been reported to them.

Here’s what else you need to know about today’s forecast:

HILL COUNTRY

  • Freezing rain and sleet is underway
  • Significant ice accumulation is likely.
  • A 1/10 - 1/3″ of ice is forecast to occur. Travel is NOT encouraged -- untreated roads and bridges and overpasses will be dangerous. Freezing rain and sleet may linger until lunch Thursday.

SAN ANTONIO & SURROUNDING AREAS

  • A cold rain is now transitioning into freezing rain around San Antonio.
  • Ice accumulation of up to a 1/10″ is possible, especially on the north side of Bexar County.
  • Even a small amount of ice can make travel dangerous. For that reason, travel tomorrow is NOT encouraged, but if you must travel know that bridges and overpasses will become slick.
  • The freezing rain (and some sleet) is now forecast to continue into the early afternoon hours. The longer the precipitation lingers, the more potential for some icing. Temperatures are expected to stay below freezing throughout the rest of the day on Thursday.

Dangerous road conditions will continue through Friday morning until temperatures warm up in the afternoon.

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.