With a strong arctic front set to arrive in the San Antonio area starting Thursday, city agencies will offer emergency warming centers but are urging residents to prepare for the freeze.

Keith White, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the “very strong arctic cold front” will move through San Antonio in the early to mid-afternoon hours Thursday.

“Behind that, we’ll see very strong north winds and quickly falling temperatures,” White said.

By Friday morning, San Antonio could see temperatures in the upper teens due to wind chill, he said. North San Antonio and Boerne could experience below-zero wind chills for a brief period. Friday afternoon temperatures in San Antonio will rise above freezing, but for areas north of San Antonio, temperatures could remain below freezing throughout the day.

But White said that blast of cold won’t bring snow and ice like Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, and highs on Christmas Day are expected to be in the 40s.

“There’s no precipitation expected whatsoever,” he said. “The next six days will be dry.”

The City of San Antonio is making coordinated preparations ahead of the expected freeze by opening seven warming centers on Thursday. Warming centers will offer short-term emergency shelter from 3 p.m. to midnight on Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. Anyone is welcome to use the warming centers at: 

  • Normoyle Community Center, 700 Culberson Ave., San Antonio, TX 78225
  • South Side Lions Senior Center, 3303 Pecan Valley Dr., San Antonio, TX 78210
  • Garza Community Center, 1450 Mira Vista, San Antonio, TX 78228
  • Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1129 Pat Booker Rd., Universal City, TX 78148
  • Emergency Services District 5, 7120 E. 6th St., Somerset, TX 78069
  • Emergency Services District 3, 23103 Bulverde Rd., San Antonio, TX 78148
  • Emergency Services District 7, 11617 Galm Rd., San Antonio, TX 78254

Residents seeking shelter at the Normoyle, South Side Lions and Garza  warming centers may bring pets, which can be kept in kennels in a separate area. City officials encouraged all residents to bring pets indoors during the frigid weather.

CPS Energy has said it is prepared for the below-average temperatures expected over the weekend and for the above-average energy demand that may result from it. The utility has winterized its plants to withstand zero-degree temperatures and gusts of wind up to 30 miles per hour, according to Benny Ethridge, the utility’s executive vice president of energy supply.

“At the state level, we are expected to have plenty of resources for this particular event,” CPS Energy President and CEO Rudy Garza said Monday.

However, with high winds in the forecast, CPS Energy crews are prepared to respond to weather-related outages. Residents are warned to stay away from downed power lines and report them at 210-353-4357. 

Because precipitation is not expected with the cold front, the Texas Department of Transportation will not pretreat area roads.

“We will continue to monitor the weather conditions if it changes,” Laura Lopez, public information officer for the San Antonio District, told the San Antonio Report. “However, we do ask that sprinklers are not used when the temperature is 32 degrees and below because water falling onto the pavement can turn into ice.”

In case weather conditions cause icy roads, VIA Metropolitan Transit has warned riders its service may be affected. VIA plans to offer free transportation to warming centers. VIAtrans passengers can alert the reservation agent that they want to go to a warming center when booking a ride. 

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Water System is advising residents to allow one faucet inside their home to slowly drip to keep water moving through pipes so they doesn’t freeze. Outdoor pipes should be covered and insulated with rags or even newspapers, SAWS said. 

The City of San Antonio also has a winter weather preparedness guide to help residents gear up for extreme weather. 

To assist people who are homeless, city officials last week worked with Corazon Ministries, which offers numerous services and resources to unsheltered people downtown, to provide them with clothing, blankets, transportation, shelter and meal information. Christian Assistance Ministry, Haven for Hope and Communities Under the Bridge are also assisting in outreach to homeless people. 

To safely stay warm during the stretch of cold weather and reduce the risk of fires, the San Antonio Fire Department reminded residents to:

  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors to avoid poisoning risks
  • Never use an oven to heat your home
  • Never use a generator indoors
  • Never plug portable heaters into power strips, only directly into wall sockets
  • Remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving a room or going to bed
  • Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. 

This article has been updated to correctly state the hours the warming centers will be open on Thursday. CPS Energy is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.