ERCOT expecting 'tight grid conditions' as winter weather hits Texas
Austin and surrounding communities are under a winter weather advisory until noon Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The weather is leading to some disruptions, and the state's electric grid operators are expecting "tight conditions" on the grid over the next couple days.
Temperatures have dropped about 50 degrees since yesterday. Freezing rain and a wintry mix are possible. The wintry mix isn’t expected to accumulate because the ground is still warm from the 80-degree temperatures we saw at the start of the week.
Ice, though, could accumulate on elevated surfaces, causing slippery overpasses and bridges tonight and Thursday morning. Around 8 p.m., the Austin Fire Department was clearing a scene on the flyover from Eastbound SH 71 to Northbound SH 130. The overpass had iced over and several vehicles were stuck waiting for the roads to be treated with sand.
NWS is encouraging people to use caution when driving and check road conditions at DriveTexas.org.
A wintry mix is also possible late Thursday evening through Friday morning in Austin and surrounding areas. It’ll remain pretty cold over the weekend, with lows in the 30s and 40s and highs in the 50s.
How's the electric grid?
After last year's storm and power outages, there's not a lot of confidence in the grid these days.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state's electric grid, says it anticipates "tight grid conditions late this evening" through Friday. That means demand for electricity could come close to the total supply.
"Our forecast shows there is sufficient generation to meet expected demand and we continue to inform the market and others of evolving weather conditions," ERCOT told KUT in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution, ERCOT requested enforcement discretion earlier today so that no generation units become unavailable due to environmental limits. We will continue our aggressive approach to meet the energy needs of Texas. We do not anticipate issuing any conservation notices at this time."
You can check on grid conditions by visiting the ERCOT website. Go here to see real-time tracking of supply and demand.
Closures and disruptions
Because of the weather, polling locations in Travis County are closing early today — at 6 p.m. They are planning to open tomorrow at 10 a.m., but that could change depending on the weather. You can follow the county clerk on Twitter for updates.
Hays County says it will delay the opening of its offices and voting centers Thursday to 10 a.m.
Several school districts are having a delayed start on Thursday. Austin ISD, Round Rock ISD, Del Valle ISD, Manor ISD, Pflugerville ISD, Hutto ISD, Georgetown ISD and Taylor ISD have announced classes will begin two hours later than normal.
Cold weather shelters and warming centers
Austin is opening up cold weather shelters tonight. People looking for a place to stay overnight can check in in person at One Texas Center between 6 and 8 p.m. The city has also opened up warming centers at all Austin Public Library branches today and tomorrow. All Austin recreation and senior centers, as well as the Asian American Resource Center, the George Washington Carver Museum, the Dougherty Arts Center and the Mexican American Cultural Center, will also be open as warming centers today and tomorrow.
Follow The National Weather Service's Twitter below for updates: