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An ice storm hit the Austin area the week of Jan. 30. Hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses lost power as ice-covered trees toppled power lines across the city.

Austin Energy says some customers' power might not be restored until Friday night

A person walks toward parked cars with an ice-filled tree nearby
Michael Minasi
Austinites woke up to icy streets and icicle-filled trees Wednesday morning. Freezing rain continued throughout the day.

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Find Thursday storm updates here.

Austin Energy told City Council members it hoped to have power restored to all its customers by 6 p.m. Friday.

"Restoration efforts have been slow due to consistently freezing temperatures and accumulating ice," the utility said in a message Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis posted on Twitter. "Additionally, we're experiencing repeated outages in affected areas as trees and branches continue to topple on our power lines, leading to additional outages."

More than 170,000 customers didn't have power at one point Wednesday as the winter storm rolled through Central Texas.

The winter storm warning from the National Weather Service has been extended for the Austin area and the Hill Country until 10 a.m. Thursday. Freezing rain is possible across the area overnight.

The power outages are being caused by local issues, like ice accumulating on power lines, utility poles and tree limbs. They’re not the result of a statewide electric grid problem. Williamson and Hays counties are also seeing outages.

Austin Energy customers can report a power outage by calling 512-322-9100 or texting "OUT" to 287846. They can also report and check on the status of outages on Austin Energy's outage map. The utility tweeted around 6:30 p.m., however, that its system could no longer handle reports by text or through the map because of the high volume.

Downed power lines have also caused problems for drivers. Interstate 35 in North Austin was shut down for an hour in both directions from Wells Branch to Grand Avenue Parkway because of fallen lines.

TxDOT continues to urge people to stay off the roads if they can. Here’s what to know if you do need to drive. The power outages are also affecting Austin traffic signals. If you come across a traffic light that is not working or is flashing red, treat it as a four-way stop.

Residents in Travis County Water District 10, around West Lake Hills, have been asked to conserve water because of a power outage at the McConnel Pump Station. The county said Austin Energy is working to restore service.

An ice-covered tree lies on its side across a sidewalk and into the road.
Michael Minasi
Austin Energy urges people to not touch tree limbs making contact with a downed power line because they could be energized.

The power went out for Northwest Austin resident India Gail this morning around 9. A couple hours into the outage, she started walking in the cold with her twin daughters and their dog to get to a friend’s house that had power to wait out the outage.

“They want to watch TV,” Gail said, referring to her 5-year-old daughters. “If it was just me, I might stick it out longer.”

She wasn’t sure when they would get it back on, so she and her family packed some food and crafts — and put their dog Mango into a sweater — and set out.

“We’re going to go hang over there and keep warm and store our food,” she said, carrying a bag of yogurt, lunch meat and cheese.

Closures and cancellations

Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Pflugerville ISD, Hays ISD and Round Rock ISD have announced closures for Thursday. UT Austin will also remain closed. Visit your local school district's website for the latest information.

Capital Metro services were suspended Wednesday. The agency said it plans to resume bus service Thursday, but it won't be on a normal schedule: Buses won't get on the road until 10 a.m. and they'll be on a reduced schedule. MetroRail will not run Thursday.

Most local government offices and facilities are closed — including in the cities of Austin, San Marcos and Georgetown, as well as Travis, Hays and Williamson counties.

Some Austin-area H-E-B stores closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday. See a full list here.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport's runways and roads are open, said Sam Haynes, an airport spokesperson.

“The airport is really quiet right now. We haven’t had to de-ice anything on the airfield but the north side of the property with the roadways and parking structures have had some ice pop up," Haynes said. "Some walkways and stairwells are closed but all roadways are open.”

The airport has had more than 300 canceled flights in the last 24 hours, according to Flight Aware.


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