Delays & Closures Mount as Winter Weather Tangles Austin Traffic (Update)
Update: Temperatures went up above freezing this afternoon, giving the roads a chance to thaw out and dry up. Skies have cleared, setting us up for another cold night with a hard freeze, but with no precipitation in the forecast.
Earlier: UT Austin has announced it will remain closed the rest of the day.
"Student and employee safety is our top concern and we understand the frustration that many on the Forty Acres feel about today’s weather-related delays," UT said in a statement published on its Tumblr page. "We’re very sorry for any trouble, inconvenience or problems that our students and employees faced related to our decisions."
Read on for more information on closures and delays.
Previously: Freezing rain began falling on the Austin area this morning after local school and government officials had announced their initial decisions about whether to operate today and when. In some cases, people already had set out on the roads for work and/or school when officials reconsidered earlier decisions and announced closures and delays.
Austin Police reported responding to 80 crashes between 5:00 and 7:30 A.M. By later in the morning, that number had grown to 214 crashes – about 40 per hour, according to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. At last check, that number had rose to 260.
Accordingly, schools and government agencies have shifted start times. Shortly after 8 a.m., the University of Texas shifted from a plan to operate on normal hours time to a noon start. (It since announced it will remain closed for the day.) Austin ISD moved to cancel classes after an initial two-hour delay. And the City of Austin announced a delayed start after the morning commute had begun.
Below, an updated list of delays and closures. (As start times shift, we will do our best to keep the information current.)
Updated Delays and Closures:
- AISD has canceled classes for the day. Burnet, Del Valle, Dripping Springs, Eanes, Elgin, Georgetown, Hutto, Lake Travis, Leander, Pflugerville, Round Rock and Manor ISDs have also canceled classes. IDEA Public Schools, Southwest Key, KIPP Public Schools and the Texas School of the Deaf are closed for the day.
- Bastrop, Lockhart, and Smithville ISDs are operating on a two-hour delay this morning. East Austin College Prep is also on a two-hour delay.
- Hays Consolidated ISD is operating on a normal schedule.
Colleges & Universities
- UT Austin is closed for the day.
- Austin Community College has canceled classes.
- Southwestern University will now open at 1 p.m.
- Huston-Tillotson University will open at 1 p.m.
- Concordia University's Austin and Houston campuses are closed for the day.
- All City of Austin offices, including Community Court and Municipal Court, are closed until noon.
- Travis County offices are open for regular business hours. However, Commissioners Court is postponed until 10:30 AM this morning
- All Williamson County offices will open at 10.
- The Office of the Texas Secretary of State and the Texas General Land Office are closed for the day.
- The Railroad Commission of Texas, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Comptroller's office will open at 10.
- The State Board of Education meeting will be postponed until noon today.
Original Post (4:29 p.m.): The latest cold front to move through Central Texas is bringing another chance of frozen precipitation starting tonight, but forecasts don't predict traffic-crippling conditions like Austin experienced last week. The National Weather Service has a Winter Weather Advisory in effect from midnight until noon tomorrow.
“This particular weather event is a very toned-down version of last week’s event,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Smart. “Precipitation amounts are going to be very light and no accumulations are expected. Having said that, we are expecting a light wintry mix over the next 24 hours, really, beginning tonight,” he said.
The Weather Service forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of sleet and snow after midnight. That could possibly leave ice on exposed surfaces, like bridges and overpasses. Smart says that could mean “a little patchy ice here or there on a flyover, but since the roadways are well-traveled and they’ve already treated a lot, we think that there’s just not going to be much in the way of any travel impacts.”
The chance of precipitation should be gone by tomorrow night, ahead of expected lows down in the 20s by early Wednesday.