Some 30,000 in San Antonio without power as winter storm batters city

click to enlarge CPS employees monitor conditions at the utility's control center. - Courtesy Photo / CPS Energy
Courtesy Photo / CPS Energy
CPS employees monitor conditions at the utility's control center.
Power outages and road closures are being reported across San Antonio as a winter storm settles in across the city. Although not expected to be as intense or last as long as February's deadly Winter Storm Uri, the weather is already causing disruptions.

Officials with municipal utility CPS Energy said crews are out in full force trying to keep the lights on. Despite those efforts, more than 32,000 customers were without power at press time. The outages are primarily in the northern half of the city, hardest hit by sleet and freezing rain.

Although the number of customers without power briefly improved to 20,000, the number climbed back to around 30,000 by late morning. According to an analysis by Texas Public Radio, that compared to just 472 customer outages experienced by Austin Energy.

The San Antonio outages aren't the result another collapse of the state's power grid, which according to state officials, is operating under "normal conditions" and has 9,000 megawatts in reserve power. Instead, the failures are the result of 35 mile-per-hour winds and ice accumulating on power lines, CPS interim CEO Rudy Garza said during a morning briefing.

Freezing rain and sleet are expected in the northern half of the city until 5 p.m. Thursday, and temperatures are anticipated to remain below freezing through Friday morning. That makes it possible the Alamo City will be in for more power disruptions.          

Temperatures should break above freezing mid-morning on Friday, reaching a high of 38 degrees before plunging into the low 20s Friday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Those who lose power can take shelter in several warming centers located across the city, which will remain open until noon Sunday. 

Local officials recommend caution for those who hit the road. Persistent precipitation and icy conditions have forced the closure of several major freeways and interchanges. Major road closures include the U.S. Highway 281 and Loop 1604 flyover as well as the Interstate 35-Seguin Road, Loop 1604-Lockhill-Selma and Interstate 10-West I-35 interchanges. A complete updated list of local road closures is available at drivetexas.org.

The city encourages residents to leave their taps dripping to prevent their pipes from freezing and to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbors. Although the damage caused by this winter storm so far appears manageable, it isn't over yet.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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