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San Antonio prepped for possible winter weather event

State transportation crews spread brine on area roadways Tuesday and will do so again on Wednesday to prevent icing
Texas Department of Transportation
State transportation crews spread brine on area roadways Tuesday and will do so again on Wednesday to prevent icing

San Antonio and Bexar County officials, CPS Energy and SAWS held a joint virtual news conference on Tuesday as a strong cold front is expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon.

The bitterest cold will be felt on Friday and Saturday mornings around dawn.

Without significant frozen precipitation as forecasted, the officials said they believe the city is well-prepared against major power and water outages. Gusty winds up to 30 mph could knock tree limbs or flying debris into power lines, causing scattered outages. San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh urged residents to report wind damage to the city.

"Residents and commuters are encouraged to contact 3-1-1 to report malfunctioning traffic signals or downed trees that are blocking streets or sidewalks," he said.

Walsh also said efforts are underway to protect the unsheltered from bitter wind chills in the teens and single digits

"Our human services department has been working with non-profit partners to prepare overnight meals and shelter for the unsheltered population.  And our human services department will also be helping with the transportation with those individuals to the shelter," he said.

Walsh added a decision will be made Wednesday on the opening of warming centers. He said anyone needing shelter or know someone who does should call 3-1-1 or the homeless hotline at 210-207-1799

Mike Morlan of the Bexar County Emergency Operations Center said the county will have some warming centers set up beginning Wednesday night and remaining open as long as needed.

"We have together with Emergency Services Districts 2, 3, 8, the City of China Grove, and the City of Leon Valley, will open our six warming centers starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow evening," he said.

The locations are listed below:

  • Emergency Services District 2 at 2096 Talley Rd
  • ESD 3 at 23103 Bulverde Rd
  • ESD 8 at 20825 Babcock Rd
  • China Grove at 2456 FM 1516 South
  • Leon Valley Convention Center at 6427 Evers Rd
  • Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office at 9810 Southton Road

Police Chief William McManus said his department will monitor roads with the Texas Department of Transportation. They will close roads before accidents happen if necessary due to icing.

"We don't want our measure to be when the crashes start, we shut them down. We got to time it right, so that just prior to those roads freezing over we want to shut them down," he said.

The leaders of both City Public Service Energy and San Antonio Water System, two city-owned utilities heavily criticized for widespread power and water outages during last February's winter blitz, expressed confidence in their winter preparations.

CPS head Rudy Garza said crucial water pumping stations are better insulated against the cold than they were a year ago. He said gusty winds could cause some scattered power outages, but otherwise believes the heat and lights will stay on across the city.

He said the statewide power grid is also ready to meet demand.

"I do believe the ERCOT system is ready to go. We might very well see an ERCOT system wide peak on Friday morning," Garza said.

The head of the San Antonio Water System, Robert Puente, said SAWS and CPS Energy are monitoring crucial pump stations closely together, but expects to keep the taps flowing.

He did have one warning for some residents.

"If you experienced frozen pipes and therefore burst pipes during Winter Storm Uri, you're probably going to see it again unless you took the time to insulate your pipes," Puente said.

He urged those who saw their pipes burst last February to act quickly to insulate them before the cold front arrives Wednesday afternoon.

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