This story has been updated.
Icy precipitation from a winter storm continued Wednesday, leaving thousands of residents without power and snapping trees and branches across northern Bexar County.
As of 9:30 p.m., 208 outages were affecting 10,311 CPS Energy customers, many in the Fair Oaks Ranch and Timberwood areas, according to CPS Energy’s outage map.
The accumulation of ice on power lines and trees took a toll, causing some of the outages. The ice also caused extensive damage to trees, breaking limbs and splitting trunks.
Tree service businesses reported an increase in calls for service due to the ice. Larry Snowdy, general manager of Republic Tree Service near Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, said he was experiencing a 400% to 500% increase in calls for tree cleanup and removal.
Calls were coming from the north central and northwest areas of San Antonio, he said, as well as residents from New Braunfels and Helotes. Snowdy said trees damaged by ice require proper cuts for the trees to heal, so residents should seek professional help for their damaged trees.
“If they leave them just splintered, it opens the trees to disease and poor health,” he said. “If there’s branches that are bent but not quite snapped off, that could cause more damage to the tree.”
Bob Hotard, a resident of Encino Park north of Loop 1604, realized one of the oak trees in front of his home was demolished when he said he heard the sound of what seemed to be firecrackers. It was actually wood splitting.
“This is just so different. It was like a series of pops,” he said.
Now Hotard expects the family will spend a few hundred dollars on a yard cleanup because of the size of the tree branches.
The National Weather Service said drizzle and freezing drizzle would continue through Wednesday evening, but temperatures were expected to rise above freezing later Thursday morning.
At least two school systems, including San Antonio Independent School District, said they planned to resume classes on Thursday. Northside ISD, the county’s largest school system, tweeted, “We anticipate all NISD schools and offices will be open and on regular schedule” on Thursday.
Late Wednesday, the Comal Independent School District announced campuses and departments would be closed Thursday. Boerne ISD also remained closed.
On Wednesday afternoon, the University of Texas at San Antonio said it would continue to operate on a modified schedule and all classes, including in-person learning, would remain online until 10 a.m. Thursday.
Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai said Wednesday the county’s emergency personnel were working to identify any residents who might need assistance, and those who do should call 311. He also asked “all residents to do their part and to stay off the roadways if possible.”
County offices and courts and most school districts remained closed Wednesday, and many agencies and businesses adjusted their hours. Because the Tax Assessor-Collector’s office was one of those shuttered, the property tax deadline has been pushed to Thursday, with hours extended to 6:30 p.m.
The city’s parks reported that parking lots at Eisenhower Park, Crownridge Park, Canyon Park and Friedrich Wilderness Park were closed due to fallen trees, and four low water crossing locations were barricaded: Old O’Connor Road at Lookout Road, Lockhill Road at White Bonnet Street, Maltsberger Lane from Country Parkway to U.S. Highway 281 and Southwell Road/Verbena Street to Encino Park.
The ice storm entered CPS Energy’s service area early Wednesday morning, leading to 26,000 power outages in northern and western San Antonio, although most residents saw their power restored as the day went on.
However, utility officials cautioned that outages could occur possibly into Thursday morning before temperatures rise enough to melt the ice.
National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Yura said Wednesday up to one-quarter of an inch of ice was being reported in northern Bexar County on trees, signs and power lines.
“Not all of Bexar County and the city of San Antonio experienced accumulating ice,” Yura said. “Today is the iffy part. … The south part of the city has hardly had any ice at all.”
Yura said northern Bexar County will remain at or below freezing and ice may not melt until Thursday afternoon, when temperatures are expected to rise to the 40s. The weather service discouraged travel through the Hill Country and in the Austin- San Antonio metropolitan areas.
CPS Energy reminded customers not to approach downed power lines and not to move or drive over downed power lines. Customers can report power lines that are down at 210-353-4357.
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