Winter Weather Update 2-15-21

Over two million people statewide are experiencing power outages, including many thousands of Austinites who have been without power since last night. Not knowing when power will be restored makes dealing with this challenge much more difficult and scary.

The State’s electric grid operator is working to address the power issues we are facing, but we do not yet know when they can end these required outages. We should plan and take action on the possibility that we will have continued power outages for some time.

For those who still have power, the best thing we can all do is conserve as much energy as possible so the state grid operator can restore power to our neighbors as soon as possible. Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees or lower if you can, turn off lights and unplug any appliances or electronics that are not being used, and do not run large appliances if you do not have to.

For those experiencing a power outage, your home is still the safest place to be if you can bundle up and keep warm. If you believe you cannot stay safe and warm in your home, a warming center has been set up at Palmer Events Center.  Other cold weather shelters are being set up in different parts of the city for people who are at risk and without a safe place to stay during this emergency. You can call the City’s cold weather hotline at 512-305-ICEE (4233), to get the most up-to-date information about warming and cold weather shelters.

It is likely that homes that still have power today will continue to have power tonight.  People who are fearful they cannot stay safe and warm at home can consider staying with family or friends that have power.  However, it is not very safe to drive our streets right now, and we are still experiencing spread of COVID-19 in our community.  Individuals should consider COVID and travel risks along with the risk of remaining home during these frigid conditions and without power.

If you believe you must travel to Palmer Events Center or another home with power, make sure you have a plan and prepare to get safely to your destination and avoid travel after dark.  Bring extra warm clothing, blankets, water, and snacks.  When you arrive at your destination, be sure to maintain social distancing, wear a face covering as much as you can, and wash your hands frequently. 

The power outages and technical issues have caused our city’s 311 system and website to be unavailable. We are asking everyone to not call 911 unless it is an immediate emergency to help keep those lines free for those who need it

Once again, Austinites are rising to the occasion to help their neighbors. Many of our community partners are stepping up to help with food and blanket donations, volunteering to staff overnight shelters, and working to provide hotel vouchers for the coming nights.

This weather-related emergency is frustrating, and for many people it’s scary. Please check on friends and loved ones if you can, especially those who may be older or more vulnerable. Stay aware and prepared by checking the news and official city social media for updates – we will get you information as soon as it becomes available.

This is one of those “perfect storm” moments that’s barely imaginable. Except that it’s here.  Now it’s up to all of us to take care of each of us.

We’re all in this together.  Be safe.