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Austin’s freezing streak ended Thursday morning, as temperatures are starting to rise, although some areas north and west of the city continue to remain at or just below freezing.
Although travel conditions are improving, officials are still urging caution, as elevated surfaces and other less-driven roads could still be slick.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service extended the winter storm warning to 10 a.m. Thursday for the Austin metro area and neighboring Hill Country, which brought additional freezing rain early in the morning that added a light amount of ice to roads and trees along with thunderstorms to the region.
The forecast brings additional risks of power outages and downed trees, which plagued the city yesterday and still impacts over 155,000 Austin Energy customers who don’t have power. A spokesperson with the utility company said it expects full restoration by Friday at 6 p.m.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by 8 a.m. on Thursday, with a chance of reaching 42 degrees by the afternoon. Liquid rain is expected to continue throughout the morning, but the afternoon is predicted to be much drier with little to no chance of precipitation.
The extended winter storm warning affects Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, while Caldwell and Bastrop counties will be under a winter weather advisory. Initially, forecasters set the warning to end by 6 a.m., but a storm system over West Texas pushed east, causing for more precipitation, the National Weather Service said.
City officials, including the mayor and city manager, are holding a press conference Thursday morning at 9 a.m., which can be live-streamed here.
Frozen trees, icy roads and outages:See the damage across Austin during winter storm
Austin Texas road conditions
Before the warning ends at 10 a.m., roads will continue to remain dangerous as small amounts of ice could form on the pavement, especially on elevated surfaces, overpasses and bridges.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s road condition map shows most of the ice that’s blanketed throughways throughout the region to be clear. The department is advising people against traveling this morning.
“At this point, most of the roads are in pretty decent shape within the city,” said Keith White, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio. “Some of those elevated roadways or lesser traveled roads could still have some slick spots for the next couple of hours. But we do think that temperatures will continue to rise through the morning and for the most part by 10 a.m. travel conditions for most of our areas should be in pretty good shape.”
Austin Energy power outage update
Widespread power outages have been ongoing since yesterday, as ice weighed down tree limbs and vegetation, causing them to snap and break power lines.
Austin Energy tweeted that it was able to restore power to some overnight, but that other outages occurred and lightning and weather concerns were making it difficult for crews to work. The utility company said yesterday that outages could last for 12 to 24 hours.
“The weather is going to improve today and tomorrow,” said Austin Energy spokesperson Matt Mitchell. “So we anticipate that all customers will be restored by tomorrow.”
In addition, traffic signals are also out throughout parts of the region. Officials said if you come to a stop with downed signals, treat it as a four-way stop.
5:46 a.m.: About 29% of Austin Energy customers are without power, as 1,200 outages are affecting over 156,000 customers.
AFD responds to multiple fires overnight
Austin firefighters were called out to 10 structure fires overnight, two of which were caused by down powerline, the department said in a tweet. In total, Austin Fire said it was called to nearly 370 instances of arcing wires.
Austin airport cancellations
Austin-Bergstrom expects a busy day on Friday, with an estimated 41,000 travelers and urged people to show up at the airport 2.5 hours before their flight.
Airlines have canceled 84 flights into our out of Austin-Bergstrom as of 5:40 a.m. on Thursday, with 24 delayed, according to Flight Aware.