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More than 30 percent of Austin Energy customers were without power Wednesday afternoon as winter storms continued to rip through central Texas, causing ice to build up on power lines, poles and tree branches.
The utility said crews were working to address the outages — which had increased throughout the day — but icy roads and icy equipment were slowing things down.
“An estimated recovery time cannot be provided,” Austin Energy said in a statement. tweet at 11:30 am “Some customers may experience power outages for 12-24 hours.”
Utilities advise customers to have contingency plans and be prepared to move by 5 p.m. if needed
The outages, which affected more than 170,000 residential and commercial electricity customers, were caused by local issues; they were not the result of problems with the statewide grid. There were also power outages in Williamson and Hays counties.
Austin Energy customers can report a power outage by calling 512-322-9100 or text “OUT” to 287846. They can also report and check outage status on Austin Energy’s Outage Map.
Downed power lines also caused problems for drivers. Just before 3 p.m., Interstate 35 in North Austin was closed in both directions from Wells Branch to Grand Avenue Parkway due to a line collapse, Travis County Sheriff’s Office tweets. The southbound frontage on Grand Avenue is also closed.The Texas Department of Transportation said all lanes reopened around 4 p.m.
TxDOT continues to urge people to stay off the road as much as possible. If you need to drive, here’s what to know. The outage also affected traffic signals in Austin. If you come across a non-working or flashing red traffic light, treat it like a four-way stop.
Residents of Travis County’s 10th District around Westlake Mountain were asked to conserve water due to a power outage at the McConnell pumping station. Austin Energy is working to restore service, the county said.
Northwest Austin resident India Gail was without power around 9 a.m. this morning. Hours after the power outage, she began walking in the cold with her twin daughters and their dog, heading to a friend’s house with power waiting to go out.
“They want to watch TV,” Gail said, referring to her 5-year-old daughter. “If it was just me, I’d probably stick around longer.”
She wasn’t sure when they’d be able to put it back on, so she and her family packed some food and crafts — and put their dog, Mango, in a sweater — and set off.
“We’re going there to rest, keep warm and store our food,” she said, holding a bag of yogurt, lunch meat and cheese.
close and cancel
Many central Texas school districts and businesses remained closed Wednesday. The National Weather Service expects freezing rain to continue into Thursday morning, so there are more closures ahead.
Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Pflugerville ISD and Round Rock ISD have announced Thursday closures. (Check your local school district’s website for the latest information.) UT Austin will also keep closed Thursday.
Metro services in the capital were suspended on Wednesday. The agency said it plans to resume bus service on Thursday, but not on its normal schedule: Buses won’t be on the road until 10 a.m. and they will run at reduced frequencies. MetroRail will be out of service on Thursday.
Most local government offices and facilities are closed — including the cities of Austin, San Marcos and Georgetown, as well as Travis, Hays and Williamson counties.
Some Austin-area HEB stores are currently closed, and others have adjusted hours. Many shops will close at 6pm on Wednesday. Check out the full list here.
Airport spokesman Sam Haynes said runways and roads at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were open.
“The airport is really quiet right now. We haven’t de-iced anything at the airport, but the road and the parking lot on the north side of the property are icy,” Haynes said. “Some sidewalks and stairwells are closed, but all roads are open.”
The airport has canceled more than 300 flights in the past 24 hours, according to Flight Aware.
where to keep warm
Those in need of a warm place to stay in Austin can head to one of these heating centers, which will be open Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
- Little Walnut Creek Branch Library, 835 W. Rundberg Ln
- Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez St.
- Turner-Roberts Recreation Center, 7201 Colony Loop Dr.
- Austin Recreation Center, 1301 Shoal Creek
Anyone requiring transport to a heating center should call 311.
Cold weather shelters will be available Wednesday night. Anyone in need of warm shelter can register at the One Texas Center at 505 Barton Springs Road between 6 and 8 p.m. and you will be taken to the shelter. You can call 512-305-4233 to learn more about the shelter.
Follow updates from the National Weather Service:
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