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San Antonio prepares for harshest cold since 2021 winter storm

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National Weather Service
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An arctic air mass is expected to arrive in Texas to create a bitter chill across Christmas weekend.

“The strong arctic front looks like it will start to move into the Panhandle late Wednesday night probably after midnight,” Keith White, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said.

“It’ll be moving pretty quickly. Looks like it’ll be pushing through the DFW area during the early to mid-morning Thursday and then reaching our area in the Hill Country by late morning or early afternoon and then likely getting all the way through Brownsville by midnight on Thursday night.”

White said when it passes through San Antonio temperatures will drop by 20 degrees after reaching a high into the 60’s, but the lowest of lows in the city will be in the upper teens and 20s on Friday and Saturday mornings.

“This will certainly be the coldest experience in our region since February 2021. On average, this is the kind of cold front we only see in our region once every ten years or so,” White said.

He added that this cold blast will come with no precipitation. He also said while there will be several hours of continuous freezing temperature, there will also be warming periods.

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“On Christmas Day, although it will be below freezing in the morning, most areas should rise back into the 40s and maybe even upper 40s by Christmas afternoon,” he said.

White said to take action before Thursday to protect people, pipes, and plants from the hard freeze. People should wear hats and gloves to maintain body heat and protect the body from an even colder wind chill.

He said make sure outdoor Christmas decorations are secured or protected from wind gusts of 35 or 40 miles per hour on Thursday and Thursday night.

Newly planted or tender in-ground vegetation should be covered, while potted plants or hanging baskets should be brought indoors or covered too.

White said outdoor pipes and faucets would be wrapped and interior sink and shower faucets, especially those connected to pipes in exterior walls, should be allowed to drip.

The forecast for this week brings back unpleasant memories of the winter storm and resulting blackouts in February 2021.

He also recommended setting the thermostat no lower than 58 and opening cabinet doors around plumbing to prevent it from freezing, especially if you plan to be out of town for the holiday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it expected to have enough power to meet demand amid a series of cold fronts this week.

ERCOT said in a statement it issued an Operation Condition Notice on Friday to power generators across the state. It warned generators to prepare for extra low temperatures.

ERCOT said scheduled maintenance and weatherization and inspections have made the grid more reliable following the 2021 winter storm that left thousands without power.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian