() — The state of Texas is bracing for a significant ice storm starting Monday expected to last well into the week. Utility and transportation workers are now scrambling to prepare for possible power outages and icy road conditions.
The National Weather Service has advised Texans in the expected areas of impact to stock up on food and prescriptions, keep devices charged and trim weak branches around houses and vehicles.
Though wintry conditions are unusual for the state, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has maintained they are prepared for the influx in electricity demand.
“ERCOT is monitoring weather conditions and expects sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand,” said the company in a Facebook post.
Texas’ power grid was seconds away from a “catastrophic” failure in 2021 due to winter storms, costing the former ERCOT Bill Magness president his job.
Over 15 school districts in east Texas were closed or had an early release on Monday, monitoring conditions for possible additional closures through the week.
To preempt road closures, TxDOT crews have begun pretreating major roadways with brine, a mixture of salt and water that keeps ice from accumulating on the roads. Along with interstates and state highways, TxDOT will also prioritize treating bridges and overpasses as they will be the first to freeze.
Experts have advised Texans to limit travel and plan for longer commute times, leaving extra space between cars and making way for the snow and ice-clearing plows. Local stations are circulating advice on stocking cars and homes in preparation for the inclement weather.
Officers have already responded to dozens of vehicle crashes in cities all over central Texas, and anticipate more to come as conditions worsen.
“Our maintenance crews coordinate to set a plan together to ensure that all the material that we use and the crews that are working are used in the best way possible to keep the traveling public safe,” said Jake Smith, TxDOT spokesperson for the Waco district.
The National Weather Service warned that central Texas could see wintry weather conditions Monday through Thursday, impacting primarily the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Bouts of freezing rain, freezing drizzle and gusty north winds are expected across most of central Texas, with some cities seeing up to 0.50″ of ice accumulation and wind chill as low as 20 degrees.