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This article has been updated.

San Antonians awoke to 3 to 5 inches of snow Monday morning, with below freezing temperatures expected to last through Tuesday. Following San Antonio’s coldest Valentine’s Day on record Sunday, Monday is expected to also become the city’s coldest Feb. 15 to date, with a high of 30 degrees and a low of 10 degrees.

Residents took to social media late Sunday night and early Monday morning to post photos of the historic snowfall – the most San Antonio has seen in 36 years. The city received a record 13 inches in 1985, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. San Antonio’s most recent snowfall took place about three years ago in December 2017, with the city getting about 2.5 inches.

The frigid temperatures put the state’s electricity grid under strain, with CPS Energy implementing rolling power outages Monday morning that the utility said would last 10-15 minutes at a time. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) initiated rotating outages around 1:30 a.m. as the extreme winter weather caused record demand.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magnes. Rotating outages will likely last through the morning, according to a statement by ERCOT.

Around 4 a.m. Monday, the Texas Department of Transportation San Antonio posted an update that crews were beginning to clear major highways of snow. Residents were encouraged to stay home to make room for first responders and essential workers as the winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service remained in place.

Icy road conditions across Bexar County prompted officials to close a number of highway ramps and connectors by Sunday morning.

“We don’t want [closures] to depend upon how many people are starting to crash,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said at a press conference Sunday before noon. “We want to close down the roadways, the highways – or at least portions of them – before that begins.”

At 3 p.m., the City published an updated list of road closures here.

Slick roads are believed to have contributed to an SAPD officer being struck around 2 a.m. Sunday while tending to a crash near Brook Hollow, police reported. The officer, Travis Gossett, was transported to a hospital and was in critical condition.

A firetruck overturned early Sunday because of ice.
A firetruck overturned early Sunday because of ice. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio Fire Department Facebook

The San Antonio Fire Department posted a picture of a firetruck that overturned early Sunday because of ice. “The storm is serious,” the post said. “Our life (and yours) are on the line.”

The news follows a 133-car pileup on Interstate 35 West in Fort Worth that resulted in 6 deaths.

McManus said Sunday morning that the City’s communications center had fielded more than 800 calls about car accidents, though many were repeat calls.

Records shattered

The National Weather Service’s New Braunfels office was expecting 1-2 inches of snow in the San Antonio/Austin region, though it could be as high as 4-5 inches.

“This is a historic arctic outbreak across the south-central U.S.,” NWS meteorologist Matthew Brady said. Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas have put winter storm warnings in place.

Temperatures in San Antonio shattered previous records for Valentine’s Day temperatures in the low 20s. And with 25-30 mph winds, it felt as cold as minus 2 degrees.

The coldest day in February on record still stands at 4 degrees, set back in 1899. The all-time record low in San Antonio is zero degrees, set in 1949.

Precautions necessary

“Everybody needs to take precautions,” Brady said.

The National Weather Service recommends that elderly people be protected and pets brought inside or given warm shelter.

Those with exposed pipes outdoors will need to wrap them and keep indoor faucets on a steady drip to prevent freezing, and all plants should be covered, the weather service recommends.

People should be vigilant for signs of hypothermia, such as shivering, exhaustion, and confusion. A full list of symptoms can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Accidents along I-35 due to inclement weather. Freezing rain and ice. Photos taken on February 14, 2021.
A truck involved in an accident is loaded to be towed away Sunday afternoon along Interstate 35. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Public transportation closures

VIA Metropolitan Transit service was suspended until further notice, officials said Monday.

Customer information phone lines were open to assist transit users with questions or emergency requests. That number is (210) 362-2020. Plans were subject to change based on updated weather conditions.

Known school closures

A number of schools announced they will be closed Monday due to the weather, though some are holding classes remotely. Many had already scheduled closures for Presidents Day.

DistrictIn-person learningRemote learning
Alamo HeightsClosed Monday No
East CentralClosed Monday No
EdgewoodClosed MondayYes
Fort Sam HoustonClosed Monday No
HarlandaleClosed MondayYes
JudsonClosed MondayYes
LacklandClosed Monday (pre-planned because of COVID-19 case numbers)Yes
Medina ValleyClosed Monday No
North EastClosed MondayYes
NorthsideClosed MondayNo
San AntonioClosed Monday and TuesdayNo
Schertz-Cibolo-Universal CityClosed Monday No
South San AntonioClosed MondayYes
SouthwestClosed MondayNo
SouthsideClosed MondayYes

A number of local colleges and universities announced that their campuses would be closed Monday, with learning continuing online. Those campuses include: San Antonio College, Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Philip’s College, Northwest Vista College, University of the Incarnate Word, Texas A&M University San Antonio, and Baptist University of the Americas.

Trinity University has closed upper campus buildings until Wednesday. No classes are scheduled for Monday, but classes will be conducted remotely beginning Tuesday.

Emergency homeless shelters opened

At least seven emergency homeless shelters opened across the city, with many offering hot meals and winter clothes.

“We have not ever, and will not ever, turn anyone away,” said Kenny Wilson, president of the city’s largest shelter, Haven for Hope.

People seeking shelter were asked to go to the organization’s intake office, located at 1 Haven for Hope Way, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. After hours, people were asked to go to the campus’s east gate at the same location.

COVID-19 testing is not required for the admittance into the organization’s emergency shelters, though pandemic precautions will be in place.

Other shelters are available, too.

A list of emergency shelters over the weekend has been compiled by the Christian Assistance Ministry and can be found here.

The City of San Antonio operates a hotline to direct people experiencing homeless to relevant resources, at 210–207–1799. Its hours of operation are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Outside of those hours, the hotline can be contacted by leaving a voicemail or emailing homelessoutreach@sanantonio.gov.

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham writes about business and technology. Contact him at waylon@sareport.org.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the general assignment reporter for the San Antonio Report.