Austin

News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

An ice or snow storm that wouldn't even slow a northeastern city can cripple Austin, as it did in 2007. Our highway overpasses stretch into the sky, making them easily ice over when temperatures drop. And because it snows so infrequently, we don't have a legion of trucks ready to clear the streets.

"We have three sand trucks on standby right now, with another twelve available, if necessary," City of Austin spokesman David Matustik told KUT News.  That amounts to about one truck for every 47,000 Austin residents.

Photo courtesy of Miranda Martin/via Flickr

**Update @ 7: 20 a.m.: ERCOT says the state's grid condition is improving but it's still urging people to conserve energy, especially before 9 a.m.  From the press release: "Although immediate concerns for the possibility of rotating outages this morning are reduced, ERCOT will be monitoring the grid closely because additional unexpected major losses of generation could force operators to begin emergency procedures to avoid an uncontrolled statewide blackout."

Earlier:

Photo by KUT News.

*updated 7:25 a.m. for weather conditions*

The Austin Independent School District will hold classes as usual at their regular start times .  UT Austin and St. Edwards University will be operating as normal.  All Austin Community College campuses will also be open today and on a regular schedule.  That includes the Rio Grande Campus. ..  .  .  .  .

A wind chill advisory is in effect until 11 a.m.  And a winter weather advisory is in effect from tonight at 6 until Friday at noon.  The cold weather has prompted some Central Texas schools to delay classes Thursday.

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

The periodic power outages mandated by the state's power grid operator could continue this evening and tomorrow.

"The grid continues to have more than 5,000 megawatts of generation out of service due to the effect of the extreme cold," the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said in a statement.

Fifty power generation units across the state stopped working overnight, ERCOT said, leading to an initial 7,000 megawatt loss of generation capacity. ERCOT said it was prohibited by market regulations from revealing which power plants they were.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell stressed at a late afternoon news conference today that Austin Energy was not among them.


KUT News sent out interns Mario Carrillo and Liang Shi to ask people how they're dealing with the frigid winter weather. Let us know how you're coping in the comments section!

Image by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Updated at 5:27 pm: Rolling outages implemented by the state's energy regulator are over, but the state's energy regulator is warning people that emergency outages could return.  About 7,000 megawatts of generating capacity went offline last night due to cold weather. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) asked local utilities to draw down their consumption to help distribute the load, leading to rolling power outages across the state.

"ERCOT has issued a notice that rotating outages are no longer needed at this time; however, there is a strong possibility that they will be required again this evening or tomorrow, depending on how quickly the disabled generation units can be returned to service," ERCOT's Dottie Roark said in an email. "Energy conservation is still critical during peak demand hours this evening between 6 and 10 pm. "

Now that rolling outages are over, Austin Energy crews are able to address lingering isolated outages. If your power is still out, call 322-9100.  Here's an Austin Energy map showing power outages across town.

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Cold weather caused about 50 generators to die across Texas overnight, reducing capacity by 7,000 megawatts and prompting the state agency responsible for managing power to request local utilities institute rolling power outages.

Capacity is slowly coming back online. KUT News is following the latest developments on this story.

Do you have any pictures that show the cold weather or how the power outages have affected you? Please email them to news@kut.org, or tell us your story in the comments below.

Matt Largey for KUT News

With Austin in the midst of an uncommon cold spell, and rolling blackouts striking parts of Central Texas, Meals on Wheels and More is calling clients to ensure that they won't be trapped in the cold.

"We'll just call [clients] and ask them how they're doing, how their homes are being affect by the temperatures, if they're feeling OK, if they need anything," Sarah Andrews with Meals on Wheels and More told KUT.

Andrews said that a lot of people receiving food are "elderly" or have "critical health needs."

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

More than fifty electricity generation units stopped working overnight because of severe weather, reducing capacity by 7,000 megawatts and leading to the rolling power outages across Texas today.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has asked utilities and transmission providers like Austin Energy to implement the rolling power outage underway now.

Image courtesy Austin Energy

We linked to it in an earlier post, but we want to make it as clear as possible about where to find this information. Austin Energy provides data on power outages through its Customer Outage Portal.

Photo by KUT News.

Statewide Power "Emergency" Means Rolling Power Outages in Austin

You may be wondering why your lights are out this morning.  Austin Energy is doing rotating cut offs.  The state’s power grid operator ERCOT is requiring this.  The state’s power grid couldn’t keep up with demand early this morning because some power plants went offline.  Austin Energy says the lights are expected to be out for about 45 minutes at a time in certain neighborhoods.

Photo by KUT News

Aficionados of books and film will have a golden opportunity to meet authors and screenwriters at the same time throughout the year and culminating in a joint festival this fall. The Austin Film Festival (AFF) will run October 20-27 in conjunction with the Texas Book Festival (TBF) October 22-23. Barbara Morgan, Executive Director of the Austin Film Festival, says both nonprofit organizations will benefit writers in the Austin community.

Image by Erik Reyna for KUT News

The City of Austin has activated its emergency cold weather plan for the homeless.  City officials say the program will remain up and running for the duration of the frosty weather, which could last into Friday morning. 

The city's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says those needing shelter should report to the ARCH or the Salvation Army downtown.  Busses will then transport shelter seekers to other warm places to bed down for the night.

Logo courtesy of Austin Energy.

Austin Power Outages

It's a windy, rainy morning as a cold front moves through Central Texas.  A wind advisory is in effect until 6 p.m.  Highs will only reach the mid 30s today.  Over 2,000 Austin Energy customers were without power as of about 8 a.m.  That's according to Austin Energy's Storm Map.  The outages are spread out across the city.  Crews are working to restore power.

Image courtesy Al Jazeera English http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/

Egyptian cities are bracing for major protests Tuesday as revolutionaries demand the ouster of that country's longstanding military dictatorship.  KUT News has been speaking with Egyptians in Austin since the turmoil began. Today, we spoke by telephone with Austin Community College professor Roy Casagranda. He grew up in Egypt and still has family in Cairo.

Image by KUT News

Austin is a long way from achieving a goal set in 2009 of having a park within walking distance of everyone in the city. Fifty-nine percent of inner city residents do not live near those kind of open space amenities, according to the city's Urban Parks Stakeholders Group (UPSG).

The UPSG made this presentation to the City of Austin's Planning Commission last week, and it included some stark comparisons.

Photo by KUT News

Texas Schools Calling Out to State Lawmakers

School districts across the state are planning to lay off teachers and considering school closures.  Districts say they're left with few options as the state proposes to cut back billions of dollars in public education spending.  Today superintendents and school board members from across the state are meeting at Austin's Convention Center

Photo by KUTAustin

Enjoy today's warm weather, because temperatures are supposed to take a nasty, cold turn by midweek.  The high this afternoon is forecast to be in the mid 70s, but an

Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Liz Carpenter Fountain in Butler Park will be closed for the next few months, as work begins on upgrading it.  The City of Austin is making more than a million dollars worth of improvements to the fountain's filtration system. 

Higher-than-expected use caused the system to shut down in the past, leading to potentially unhealthy levels of bacteria in the water.  Work is expected to be finish on the fountain by May.

Image courtesy APD

Police say they seized 39 pounds of "high quality" marijuana that was shipped to two separate addresses in Austin. The bust was conducted by an APD K-9 unit, an APD SWAT team, and United States Postal Inspectors.  You can see a slideshow of the alleged haul below.

Image courtesy Ciorra Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/inno68/

A 35-year-old man who died this week on a construction site in South Austin was working on a "makeshift" scaffolding, according to the Austin Police Department.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the accident at the Village on Little Texas.

Photo courtesy of the City of Austin.

City Green Lights Mobility Projects

Remember that transportation bond voters approved back in November? The Austin City Council has approved the first two projects from the $90 million dollar 2010 Mobility Bond.   

Photo by KUT News

Senate Approves Voter ID

The Texas Senate passed controversial voter ID legislation last night. The Senate speedily passed the bill that Democrats had blocked in previous sessions.   As expected, the vote came down along party lines. 

Senate Committee OKs Voter ID

For the third consecutive session, Texas GOP members are trying to get a Voter ID bill through the Senate. A Committee of the Whole Tuesday voted in favor of the bill, which would require voters to show photo ID, such as a driver’s license, military ID, personal ID card, or passport, before voting.

Photo by KUT News.

Texas Senate Releases Its Draft Budget Proposal

First the House, now the Senate has released its projected cuts. The Texas Senate released its first draft state budget proposal yesterday, following the House's first draft budget released last week.  It's $2.3 billion bigger than the House proposal at $158.7 billion. 

Photo by KUT News

City officials will hold a public meeting tonight to discuss the future of Bull Creek District Park and get input from the community about that future.  The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 Water St.

Photo by KUT News.

Picture by KUT News

Good morning from the KUT Newsroom.  We hope the high cedar and mold counts don't have you feeling like us (nothing like going through a box of tissue first thing in the morning).  Anyway...plenty of news to pass along this morning.

Austin ISD Goes Over Facilities Plan...again:

Photo by KUT News

With temperatures barely breaking into the 60s this weekend, a dip in Barton Springs Pool might not be the first thing on your mind. But it will be your last chance to enjoy the swimming hole until mid-March.

This is a video produced by opponents of a proposed disc golf course at Roy Guerrero Colorado River Park in South East Austin. The video is intended to advance one side of the argument, but it still gives you an idea of what the area looks like. 

For unbiased reporting on the city's plans, check out some of KUT's coverage here and here.

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