AUSTIN (Nexstar) — On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to increase the readiness level of the State Operations Center (SOC) as winter weather began impacting large portions of Texas through Thursday.
The National Weather Service forecasts a wintry mix—primarily freezing rain—until Thursday in West, Central and North Texas, with sub-freezing temperatures expected throughout the week, according to the release. Heavy rainfall and flash flood potential is also in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday in Central, East and Southeast Texas.
During a joint press conference on Tuesday with other state agency leaders, Abbott warned Texans mostly of driving conditions, urging caution of black ice on the roads and to avoid driving if possible.
“Anybody who needs to be out driving needs to be very cautious of the conditions because your eye may not be able to perceive the hazard that’s in front of you,” the governor said.
As of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, there were about 7,000 power outages across Texas, according to Abbott. He attributed those to localized issue, assuring Texans that the power grid — which nearly collapsed during the 2021 February freeze — is equipped for handling this cold stretch.
“The power grid itself is functioning very effectively as we speak right now,” Abbott said. “And there is not anticipated to be any challenge to the power grid in the state of Texas.”
Officials from ERCOT and PUC, which operate and regulate the state’s power grid, respectively — doubled down on the governor’s messaging. They said the grid is steadily holding on to current demand and Texans are not being asked to conserve power, as the state braces for icy weather and freezing temperatures.
“The State of Texas is working tirelessly to ensure Texans and their communities have the resources, assistance, and support needed to respond to winter weather impacts across the state. As we mobilize the resources Texans need to stay safe, I encourage everyone to remain weather-aware, check DriveTexas.org before traveling, and heed the guidance from local officials. I want to thank all the first responders and emergency management personnel helping Texas communities prepare and stay safe during this severe weather.”-Gov. Greg Abbott
The following state agencies were requested by TDEM to report to the SOC:
- Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
- Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
- Texas A&M Forest Service
- Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
- Texas Animal Health Commission
- Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service
- Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC)
- Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC)
- Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Texas National Guard
- Texas Education Agency
- Texas Department of Information Resources
At the Governor’s direction, the following state emergency response resources were mobilized:
TxDOT: Winter weather roadway equipment and crews pre-treating and treating roadways, including roadway condition monitoring
TDEM: State Mass Care Coordination personnel working with local partners to update warming center maps; Communications Coordination Group is engaging with telecommunications partners
Texas National Guard: Four-wheel drive vehicles and personnel responding to support stranded motorists
Texas A&M Forest Service: Motor graders and personnel to assist with snow/ice clearance and saw crews to assist with removal of downed trees
PUC: Power outage monitoring and coordination with utility providers
RRC: Monitoring of the state’s natural gas supply and communication with the oil and gas industry
TCEQ: Personnel to monitor drinking water, wastewater, and air quality
DPS: Personnel patrolling roadways
DSHS: Texas Emergency Medical Task Force severe weather packages
To check road conditions, go to DriveTexas.org and find cold weather resources on the TDEM website.
Additionally, TDEM continued coordinating recovery operations in Southeast Texas in response to tornado damage sustained last week, the release said. On Monday, Abbott updated his disaster declaration to include Jefferson and Liberty counties, following confirmation of damage in those counties from severe storms.