This article has been updated.
Hours after an arctic cold front blew into San Antonio, officials urged residents to avoid nonessential travel Thursday as temperatures dropped below freezing, prompting the closure of some highway interchanges.
The flyover ramps at U.S. Highway 281 and Loop 410 were closed, along with the ramps at U.S. Highway 281 and Loop 1604 and at Interstate 10 and Loop 1604. Highway officials also warned of potentially icy conditions on Interstate 10 in Kendall County, just north of San Antonio. TxDOT San Antonio was tweeting current road closures at @txdotsanantonio.
Most area school districts announced they would close for the second day in a row on Friday due to what has been dubbed Winter Storm Landon. The winter weather also prompted H-E-B to announce it would close its San Antonio-area stores at 6 p.m. Thursday. They were scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. Friday.
The forecast called for temperatures in the region to plunge into the 20s overnight, freezing any accumulated rain, which will make travel more treacherous.
While the state electrical grid remained stable and the city-owned utility’s power plants were operating normally, as many as 98,000 CPS Energy customers were without power at some point Thursday, although many of those might have only seen their power “blip off” for a moment, said interim CEO Rudy Garza. About 37,000 customers endured “sustained outages,” he said.
At 11:41 p.m. Thursday, roughly 1,052 customers remained without power. Garza said crews were working to reconnect all customers by midnight. He thanked line crews, tree trimmers and other staff who had been out during the past 12 hours clearing and reconnecting customers: “They’re the best in the business.”
The outages were due not to any system failure or rolling blackouts, but high winds and ice accumulation, either on tree branches that get heavy enough to touch power lines, or the lines themselves. Garza said CPS Energy did not expect to see as many outages on Friday, as the forecast called for drier weather.
The outages were clustered in the northern part of the county, above Interstate 10, according to CPS Energy’s outage map.
Linda Richter, who lives just south of the South Texas Medical Center near the interchange of Loop 410 and I-10, said her power was out for almost four hours. She wore a mask indoors because cold air aggravates her asthma.
“I can see ice on the power lines, and on tree branches, but I can’t help associate” the power outage with the near-failure last year of Texas’ power grid, when her house had power for about 24 hours over four freezing days.
CPS Energy services almost 887,000 customers, according to its outage map.
The state’s electrical grid had about 8,500 megawatts of reserve power at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, according to its live website dashboard. Current demand appears to be just under 64,000 megawatts, while total committed capacity, or how much power the grid has available, is more than 85,000 megawatts.
Meanwhile, city and county warming stations remained open. City Manager Erik Walsh reminded residents to bring warm clothes and medications, and food for pets, which are also welcome. Those needing a ride or anything else can call 311, which city officials said would take calls until midnight Thursday, then reopen at 6 a.m. Friday.
VIA buses were running and offering free rides to warming centers; anyone who needs a ride can call 311, CEO Jeff Arndt said. VIAinfo.net has the latest information on routes and detours.
The power was out at the home of SAWS chief Robert Puente Thursday morning; he dialed into the media briefing from his car.
“I’m not freezing, I’m nice and warm in my car,” he reported, then confirmed that all SAWS pump stations and other infrastructure was online, “nothing out of the ordinary.”
The city of San Antonio’s severe weather information and updates include the latest from CPS Energy, SAWS, Bexar County and VIA.
CPS Energy is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.