This article has been updated.
Ice and thunderstorms moving through Central Texas Thursday kicked off what is forecast to be a six-day stretch of wintry weather that might produce San Antonio’s coldest Valentine’s Day on record.
City and county officials as well as National Weather Service meteorologists issued warnings Thursday encouraging residents to stay off the roads and seek shelter as temperatures dropped to the mid-30s, with potentially record-breaking lows forecast through early next week.
Sunday could prove to be the coldest Valentine’s Day in San Antonio’s known history, should the city reach the forecast low of 17 degrees. The city’s coldest Valentine’s Day on record took place in 1905, when the city saw a low of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, according to almanac data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Monday could also produce a new record low for Feb. 15.
As the cold weather began moving in on Thursday, the National Weather Service posted social media alerts on Twitter and Facebook asking Austin- and San Antonio-area drivers to stay home.
“This cannot be overstated today: PLEASE, DO NOT TRAVEL in the Hill Country and Northern I-35 corridor,” the tweet stated. “Conditions will continue to deteriorate as elevated roadways ice over first followed by other roads.”
The National Weather Service posted an update Friday morning warning residents of the Austin-San Antonio corridor that freezing rains will continue to coat the roads over the weekend. The warning follows a 26-car pile up that occurred Thursday morning on State Highway 46 in Northwest Austin and a 100-car pile up that killed at least 6 people in Forth Worth.
City of San Antonio officials announced in a press release around noon Thursday that the City and its partner agencies are prepared to provide access to shelter and services to homeless residents seeking shelter from the cold weather.
“In critical situations like severe weather, the City and our partners work even harder to reach those who are unsheltered and direct them to a safe and warm shelter,” City Manager Erik Walsh stated in the release.
This announcement comes a week after City officials came under scrutiny regarding the removal of homeless encampments under Interstate 37 near Brooklyn Avenue.
City partner Haven for Hope will be open for all individuals seeking shelter, the release said. They will sleep indoors and receive cold-weather clothing, it added.
The Salvation Army Dave Coy Men’s Shelter also provides an overnight shelter at 226 Nolan St., and the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) has organized a collection drive for cold-weather materials available for street outreach workers and those in need at the San Fernando Homeless Resource Hub, located at 319 W. Travis St.
Homeless outreach providers will also help coordinate transport of homeless individuals to shelters, according to a City press release.
Bexar County’s public works department is preparing and will be on standby with work trucks to salt icy roads, according to a Thursday press release.
Bexar County residents should stay away from bridges and low-lying areas where ice can build up and only use safe means for warming homes, County officials urged. Using stoves, ovens, and space heaters to do so is discouraged by the Bexar County Fire Marshal, according to the release.
The fire marshal also encourages keeping children away from fireplaces; keeping heat sources away from curtains, carpets, rugs, or mattresses; and unplugging heat sources when leaving the room or going to bed.
“Create a home fire escape plan,” the release stated. “The Bexar County Office of Emergency Management offers resources and guides online in regards to home fire safety.”